LAHORE - Dozens of residents of Kasur district have been detained for DNA sampling during the last 48 hours while the investigators are struggling to get any clue about the serial killer, a Punjab government official said, seeking anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“One thing has so far been established that a man is involved in at least eight such cases. The DNA sampling of the victims endorses this point,” the official said. “There are 70 to 80 percent chances that the mystery will be solved soon. Nobody is 100 percent sure right now about the identity of the killer,” he added.

Criminal negligence has been found on part of a provincial police officer in addition to the Kasur district police head in Zainab murder case as the investigators have intensified efforts to hunt down a serial killer.

The Kasur district police reported at least 11 cases of child rape and murder in the recent past. The police are hunting for a serial killer in the latest case. Before this, local police never investigated this element despite a series of child murders.

Several forensic experts were sent to the district Kasur for DNA sampling of local population soon after the authorities came to know that the rapist on the loose, in fact, is a serial killer.

An official of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency who is also working closely with the police investigators told The Nation that the serial killer appears to be a clever person and not just a psychopath only. “Local police officers believe he would have been watching closely the rare movement of the police in the locality.

Experts are collecting DNA samples of local residents on a daily basis, which are being processed at the “state-of-the-art” Punjab Forensic Science Agency. “However, no sample matching has yet been found,” the official explained.

Meanwhile, Punjab Inspector General Police Arif Nawaz Khan has directed the officers concerned to employ modern means of scientific-based investigation for quick resolution of the Zainab murder case and conduct DNA test of all dubious persons with the cooperation of Nadra-related information so that the ruthless culprit could be taken to task.

According to a police spokesman, the top cop expressed these views while addressing the police officers during a meeting to assess progress on the Zainab murder case. Multan RPO Muhammad Idrees, who leads the joint investigation team, Sheikhupura RPO Zulfiqar Hameed, Kasur DPO Zahid Nawaz Marwat and other officers of the JIT were also present on this occasion. Some other officers also attended the conference via video-link while Additional-IG (Operations) Muhammad Aamir Zulfiqar Khan, Additional IG (Investigations) Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh, AIG Legal Abdur Rab and AIG Monitoring Ahsan Younis also attended the meeting.

The police chief said, “By keeping trust of local people and claimants, full cooperation should be acquired and investigation team of police should be briefed completely for diligent performance.”

Head of the investigation team, Muhammad Idrees, and other members briefed the police chief about the current situation and the progress made in the Zainab murder case. “All aspects of the murder were judged in detail,” the police spokesman said.

The IGP also told the police officers that the entire nation is keeping eye on this case. “Therefore, this case should be resolved at the earliest by making the proceedings of the investigation speedy,” he asserted.

IGP Khan urged the police officers to extend the scope of the investigation to other departments for cooperation so that no stone should be left unturned to provide justice to the heirs of Zainab.

Seven-year-old Zainab was abducted by a man when she was going to a nearby religious school on January 4. Several days later, she was found abandoned in the fields near Elite College on Shahbaz Khan Road, locals said.

The latest case of child abduction, molestation and murder that surfaced in the same district triggered a widespread outrage with rights activists demanding justice for Zainab.

A high-powered joint investigation team, comprising police investigators and intelligence operatives, is working on different lines to unearth the serial killer. Calm returned to Kasur city on Friday after three-day protests and violence.