LAHORE, Pakistan – Police have arrested a cook in central Pakistan who is accused of poisoning to death 22 people as part of a political feud between two branches of the same family, a local police chief said.
The incident in the town of Mailsi in Punjab province followed recent provincial elections in which Arsal Khan Khichi lost to his cousin Jehanzaeb Khan Khichi, police chief Sadiq Dogar said late Thursday.
Arsal Khan Khichi is accused of paying a cook, Mohammad Rafiq, 50,000 rupees ($500) to poison food at his rival's home on June 9, Dogar said. Nearly 50 people became sick and were taken to the hospital, and 22 died. Jehanzeb Khan Khichi was not at home when the incident occurred, Dogar said.
Rafiq has confessed to poisoning the food, Dogar said. Police waited to arrest him until they received medical reports that confirmed the dead had been poisoned. Arsal Khan Khichi is still on the run, and a murder case has been registered against him as well, Dogar said.
Politics are often a family affair in Pakistan, where it is not uncommon to have members of the same clan running against each other as members of rival political parties.