Police were reported to have arrested the estranged India-born husband of a young British Punjabi woman who died on Monday after being found on the streets of a London suburb with a severed hand.
Geeta Aulakh, a receptionist at Britain's biggest Asian radio station Sunrise Radio, died shortly after being found Monday evening by a horrified passerby, lying on a street in the west London neighbourhood of Greenford. Aulakh, 28, had a head wound and her hand was severed from her arm, police said Tuesday. She died in hospital.
Investigators believe Aulakh was attacked Monday evening, shortly after leaving work to pick up her two children, aged eight and nine. She was found a short distance from the front door of her childminder.
Her husband, from whom she was separated, was reported by the British media to be among six people who were arrested. British police do not name suspects until they are charged.
The case has shocked the bustling west London suburbs of Greenford, where Aulakh lived, and Southall, where she worked. The two neighbourhoods border each other and are home to London's largest communities of Punjabis.
"You report this sort of thing but you never expect to report your colleague like this. It's an absolute shock to everyone," Seema Sidha, a news producer at Sunrise Radio and one of the last people to see her alive, said Tuesday.
"All of us were very confused and surprised to hear the news this morning. Why would someone do this to her?"
Avtar Lit, chairman of Lit Corporation that owns Sunrise Radio, described the killing as "unbelievable."
"There's a close-knit staff here. To think that less than 24 hours ago she was answering the phone here," Lit said.
The local media said Aulakh was born in Britain, while her estranged husband was born in Punjab. The couple had been separated for a year and she had custody of their two sons.
Aulakh had recently returned after a visit to Punjab where she had attended a cousin's wedding.
Acting detective chief inspector Andy Chalmers said: "When the victim was found we know that a lot of people were in the street and that several people may have tried to administer first aid before the police or ambulance arrived.
"These people left the scene before speaking to police and I would ask that anyone who was there, or anyone else who has information about the incident, call us in the strictest of confidence."
Anyone with information has been asked to call the London incident room on 020 8358 0200 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.