Lucknow: The Delhi Police Special Cell on Thursday claimed to have arrested the main accused in the killing of three children in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr last week. ANI said Salman Malik was arrested from Seelampur area a day ago.

Last Saturday, bullet-riddled bodies of three children were found in a tubewell tank near their house in Bulandshahr’s Seelampur. Eleven-year-old Abdul, and eight-year-old Aliva and Aasma, who were cousins, were allegedly shot at close range the previous night.

Two arrests were made soon after. Bilal, a maternal relative of the children, was arrested for allegedly plotting the triple murder and Imran was held earlier this week.

The main accused, Salman, had visited Bulandshahr a fortnight ago and Bilal helped him find accommodation. Police said Bilal’s family often chided him for keeping bad company. The need for money and the ‘humiliation’ by kin made him so angry he, along with Salman, decided to kidnap the children.

On Friday evening, Bilal and Salman lured the children with chocolates and dropped them with Imran close to a jungle. Bilal went on to rejoin the family as part of a search party, taking them all over to throw them off the trail, police said.

“Later in the night, Salman and Imran came to know that the family had approached the police and a case will be filed. Fearing police action, they shot the three children and dumped them in a small water tank,” said an official.

A country-made pistol and live cartridges were recovered from the accused. Imran has no previous criminal record.