A man in Pakistan allegedly burnt his three toddlers alive and later set himself ablaze over a dispute with his wife, police said on Monday (11 September). The deceased children included a four-day-old girl.

Muhammad Ali of at Pindi Jattan village in Elahabad reportedly took the extreme step after his wife refused to return home to him following a domestic dispute.

The couple was married for about five years and had three children — the eldest was a daughter, Haleema Bibi, aged three, followed by a son named Abdullah, who was 1.5 years old. The youngest was four days old and yet to be named, police said.

The man's wife, Sakina Bibi, had left home following an argument between the two and despite Ali's repeated requests, refused to return. She had gone to stay with her parents, leaving the three kids with her husband.

Enraged over his wife's repeated refusals, he poured petrol over his children and burnt them alive, the Dawn newspaper reported. Ali then poured the flammable liquid over him and attempted self-immolation, but other family members rushed to the site after hearing the children's cries.

Some family members, including Ali's mother, father and brother, suffered burn injuries while trying to rescue the children. The toddlers were pronounced dead after they were rushed to a nearby health centre.

Ali was moved to another hospital in Lahore, and has reportedly suffered 80% burns. The injured family members were treated at the health centre.

An investigation was ongoing, police said, noting that the bodies of the three children were sent for postmortem.