ISLAMABAD, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Officials in Pakistan's eastern Punjab Province said Sunday that a custodian of a shrine killed at 20 people, including four women, earlier in the day, according to local reports.
The incident occurred in Sargodha district, some 200 km south of Islamabad early Sunday when people were gathered to seek spiritual advice and treatment, a senior official in the area told reporters.
Deputy Commissioner Sargodha district Liaquat Ali Chatta said the custodian, Abdul Waheed, was most probably suffering from mental health problems and that could be the possible reason of killing the people.
Waheed, who is also an employee of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Sargodha, murdered his disciples with knives and batons after giving them drugs, the official said.
Initial investigation suggests that Waheed and his accomplices brutally killed the intoxicated visitors after stripping them.
The police arrested Waheed and his five close associates, who were also involved in the case.
Three people, who were injured and managed to flee, were taken to a local hospital for treatment, rescue official Mazhar Shah told reporters. He said the rescue team received a call around 0:50 a.m. local time Sunday about the incident and rushed to the site.
"When we arrived at the scene, we found 19 bodies. All slain people were beaten to death and their bodies were burnt," Shah said. Local reports said another body was found later and put the death toll of the tragedy at 20.
Officials said Waheed had established the so-called shrine two year ago in a village. The shrine was illegal and no permission was sought from the local authorities, locals said.
Those who were killed belonged to different parts of Punjab Province and federal capital Islamabad, the deputy commissioner said.