OFFICIALS are investigating whether a man arrested over the deaths of eight girls is linked to an international child abuse ring.

The development came days after the arrest of Mohammad Imran, 24, in connection with the rape and killing of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari in the city of Kasur.

Zainab was assaulted and her body thrown in a rubbish dump there earlier this month, stirring outrage across the country and bringing to light a string of other abductions and killings by a suspected serial predator.

Her parents were on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia when she went missing.

Her father, Mohammed Amin Ansari, has demanded that his daughter’s killer be publicly hanged.

On Tuesday, police officials said the suspect had confessed to the murders. A judge at the Lahore High Court granted the police another week for the investigation.

So far Imran, who will be tried before an anti-terrorism court, has not hired a lawyer to represent him. His trial, according to the Lahore court, is expected to last a week, with daily hearings.

Chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday demanded a report from the investigators after a local TV programme alleged the suspect could be part of a gang that supplied videos of children being abused to an international network.

Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal pledged to arrest all involved.