LAHORE - A 21-year-old woman and her 25-year-old husband were gunned down in the name of ‘honour’ at a rented house in Chuhng area on Tuesday, police said.

Iqra Bibi had lately contracted marriage with Tahir against the will of her parents, police investigators said. They were secretly living in the rented house as the woman had eloped in a bid to tie her knot with the man of her own choice.

The resident of Pattoki and her husband were present at their rented house in Shahpur Kanjran on early Tuesday as the gunmen, including father of the woman, barged into their residence and opened indiscriminate fire. As a result, the woman and her husband sustained multiple injuries and died on the spot.

After visiting the crime scene, a police investigator said the killers pumped several bullets into their bodies and fled after they made sure the couple were dead.

The Edhi ambulance service later shifted the bodies to the morgue for autopsy.

The couple had been residing in the rented house in the suburb of Lahore since they contracted court marriage, local residents said.

A police officer said that three persons are arrested in connection with the double-murder and the police are conducting raids to arrest the accomplices of the prime suspect.

A case has been registered investigation is in progress.

Murders for so-called “honour” are common in the populous Punjab where such killings are more often based on individual decisions and carried out in private.

In most cases, husbands, fathers or brothers of the women concerned perpetrate the murders. The victims range from pre-pubescent girls to grandmothers. They are usually killed on the mere allegation of having engaged in 'illicit' sexual relationships.

Last year, a 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family outside the Lahore High Court in a so-called “honour” killing for marrying the man she had loved.

Under Pakistan's Penal Code, honour killings are treated as murder. However, the law states that the family of the victim is allowed to compromise with the killer (who is usually a relative).

Legal experts and social scientists are calling for this law to be changed. Crime experts suggest the state should become the complainant in such cases to discourage the practice and to bring culprits to justice.

According to a United Nations study, there are more than 5,000 “honour killings” worldwide each year. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported last year that 869 women were murdered for ‘honour’ in the country. But the real figure could be much higher, with many such killings believed to be disguised as accidents, or not reported at all. In 2011, human rights groups reported 720 honour killings in Pakistan (605 women and 115 men).