Police said they detained 15 people for questioning on Thursday, after armed men allegedly gang raped a woman in front of her children after her car broke down on a deserted highway. The arrests followed the overnight incident near Lahore in which two men are said to have also stolen cash and jewelry from the woman before fleeing the scene. None of the 15 was thought to be an assailant, police said. The police said the woman had locked her car doors when she ran out of fuel but the attackers broke a car window and dragged her outside where they raped her before her terrified children. Police said the victim was travelling with her children in a car when the vehicle stalled due to lack of petrol. She called her relative and sent him her location on the motorway. When the relative arrived on the location, he reportedly saw the victim driving the car towards him with broken window panes.The woman told the police that she was waiting for her relative to arrive and pick her children and herself from the spot when two armed assailants attacked her. One perpetrator hit the car with clubs and the other held them hostage at gunpoint. The attackers then took her and the children to a nearby forested area where they gang-raped the victim. Later on, they robbed her of valuables which included Rs 100,000 cash, two gold jewellery pieces, a bracelet, car registration card and three ATM cards and left her stranded. Upon receiving the report of the incident, a heavy contingent of forensics and police rushed to the spot. Police registered a case on the statement of Sardar Shehzad, a relative of the woman, and have started searching for the accused with the help of CCTV cameras. Initial medical reports of the woman proved that she was raped.However, a spokesman of the motorway police said that the tragic incident with the woman did not occur in the limits of the motorway police. “The area of Karol Ghati and Gujjarpura Police Station is not within the area of the motorway police,” the spokesperson added. “Ring Road and Lahore-Sialkot Motorway are not with the motorway police.” The attack quickly drew widespread condemnation on social media, with some activists demanding that those involved be hanged in public. But in a shocking televised statement, recently appointed Lahore police chief Umar Sheikh blamed the victim for traveling alone with her two children after midnight without checking whether her car had enough fuel. His comment drew nationwide condemnation, although he also vowed to arrest the rapists within 48 hours. Human rights activists urged the government to fire Sheikh, the police chief, for his remarks.The Punjab government claimed to have arrested 12 individuals suspected of involvement in the gang-rape and robbery of the woman on motorway. The provincial spokesperson, Mussarat Cheema, added that the search is ongoing and the police and allied departments are working in close coordination. Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar also took notice of the incident. The incident occurred near Gujjarpura. The provincial chief executive also ordered the province’s inspector-general to submit a detailed report of the incident, arrest the accused and provide justice to the victim.A statement released by the Punjab Police also confirmed the arrests and said that 20 teams of Lahore Police and CIA, headed by the deputy inspector general of police (investigation), had been constituted on the orders of Inspector General Inam Ghani to investigate the case. The police teams are working day and night, the statement said, to identify the accused by gathering DNA evidence, geofencing, examining CCTV footage and NADRA records.Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar admitted the government’s ‘administrative failure’ in the Lahore motorway rape case, reiterating that culprits will be apprehended at all costs. “There is some administrative failure as well [in the case] that we must admit since it took place on the link road that connects the two motorways, hence it became a bit of an issue,” Akbar told a news conference, flanked by CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh.Prime Minister Imran Khan directed a strict action against culprits involved in rape of a girl child and a woman, saying such incidents were a blot on the society. Taking notice of the incidents, the prime minister asked the inspectors general of police to submit investigation reports. Prime Minister Imran Khan said protection of women was the responsibility and priority of the government, and warned that such horrific acts could not be allowed in a society.