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Mon 11 Aug 2008 11:01 AM

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Jordan authorities probe 'honour killing'

Investigation launched after man kills his unmarried niece in stabbing attack, accuses her of affair.

The Jordanian authorities are probing a possible "honour" killing after a man stabbed to death his unmarried niece, accusing her of having an affair, security officials said on Sunday.

The 50-year-old man, who was not identified, has been arrested pending further investigations after the death of his 38-year-old niece in the northern city of Zarqa on Friday night.

During a heated argument, the woman grabbed a "kitchen knife and stabbed her uncle in the chest," one official told AFP.

But he managed to pry the knife out of her hand "took it and stabbed her back three times, once in the heart," he said, adding that the woman's mother, who was present during the row, died of a heart attack due to shock.

"So far, the police did not charge the suspect because the investigation is still under way," he added.

Another security official said that the authorities are trying to determine if the man committed the crime in "self-defence" or if it was an "honour" killing.

Those convicted in such cases often receive light sentences because parliament has twice refused to reform the penal code, despite pressure from human rights groups to end the near impunity of perpetrators.

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