Muslim teen may be victim of 'honour' killing: UK Police
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Muslim teen may be victim of 'honour' killing: UK Police

Missing teenager Shafilea Ahmed's parents have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping her, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2004 16:44 IST

The parents of Pakistani teenager Shafilea Ahmed, who vanished within months of refusing an arranged marriage proposal during a visit to Pakistan, were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of her kidnap.

The 17-year-old has not been seen since September 11 and detectives now suspect that she is dead. Earlier this year Shafilea's parents took her to Pakistan in the hope of arranging her marriage to a distant cousin. She, however, refused. A short time later, she apparently tried to commit suicide by swallowing bleach, which left her with a damaged oesophagus that required her to be on constant medication to live. A nationwide search of hospitals and clinics has satisfied police that they cannot have issued her with further supplies. Doctors say she cannot survive so long without medication.

Iftikhar Ahmed, 44, a taxi driver, and his wife, Farzana Ahmed, 41, were questioned at their home in Great Sankey, near Warrington, Cheshire, before being taken to a police station. Earlier this month detectives had released excerpts from songs Shafilea wrote in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. The verses were found in her bedroom. They showed her as a teenager torn between her family's traditions and the western culture she was seeking to embrace. In one song, titled Happy Families, Shafilea referred to a clash of cultures and her family's preoccupation with "honour".

Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that Shafilea is a victim of an "honour" killing. She is the oldest child with three sisters and a brother. Police have found her dual-nationality passport, making it doubtful that she has left the country. Police has not only searched her home, but have also searched the wasteland near the house for clues.

Shafilea had run away twice, once in November last year and again in January. After her return in February she went with her family to Pakistan. After the incident when she took bleach she was hospitalised in a local hospital in Pakistan for several weeks. On May 27 she flew back to England and resumed treatment at a hospital in Warrington. On the night of September 11 she went to bed with her seven-year-old sister. It is claimed that when the family woke up the next morning she was gone.

Shafilea, an A-Level student has been described by her teachers to be a bright and popular student. Cheshire Police confirmed yesterday that a 44-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman had been arrested at the family home at 8.05 am. A spokesman added: "Sadly Shafilea has not been found and we are still searching for her body."

First Published: Jan 16, 2004 16:44 IST