A young Pakistani bride accused of mistakenly killing 17 of her in-laws after she tried to murder her husband by poisoning his drink has said she was desperate for a divorce.

Aasia Bibi, 21, claims she was married to 25-year-old groom Amjad Akram against her will in September in a village near the town of Ali Pur, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Multan, a city in the eastern Punjab province.

Desperately unhappy, she allegedly was given a poisonous substance from her boyfriend, Shahid Lashari, last week and mixed it in a milk drink for her husband. But he refused to drink it.

However, Bibi's mother-in-law later innocently used the deadly cocktail to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 members of her extended family, who slipped into unconsciousness and were rushed to hospital.

The death toll has now reached 17, with a further 10 still being treated in hospital, police said.

Bibi has since been arrested on murder charges and taken into custody.

Bibi and Lashari appeared before a judge in the city of Muzaffargarh on Tuesday (31 October), and told reporters she was angery over her parents' decision to marry her against her will.

"I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage but my parents rejected all of my pleas and they married me to a relative," she said.

She said her love affair with her boyfriend continued after she got married.

Bibi said she had warned her parents that she was capable of going to any length to get out of the marriage, but they refused to allow her to get a divorce.

She said Lashari gave her a poisonous substance, which she used to try to kill her husband. She expressed remorse over the deaths, saying her target was only her husband.

District police chief Sohail Habib Tajak said a judge allowed investigators to question the young woman for two weeks to determine whether her boyfriend may have incited her to kill her husband by poisoning.

He said: "This incident took place last week and our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us."

The police chief said officers were trying to trace and arrest all those who were aware of the plot. He added that Lashari had confessed to supplying the poison.