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Crime

Indian police arrest five over Swiss tourist gang-rape

Indian police have announced the arrest of five men in connection with the gang-rape of a Swiss woman who had been on a cycling tour. The attack is the latest to focus India’s attention on the issue of sexual violence.

Police announced the arrests on Sunday, adding that all five of the men had admitted to the attack in the Datia district of Madhya Pradesh state.

The five, understood to be small-scale farmers, were arrested on charges of rape and robbery. Police said they were searching for another man allegedly involved in the attack.

"We have detained five men and they have confessed to gang-raping the woman and attacking her husband," a local police official, M.S. Dhodee, told the AFP news agency.

The 39-year-old woman and her husband, who had been on their way to the city of Agra, had been setting up camp in a forest when the attack took place on Friday night. The alleged assailants were said to live in a village near the spot where the couple were staying.

"They were passing by, noticed the couple putting up their tent and saw an opportunity to attack and rape the woman," Dhodee said, adding that the husband had been tied up as the attack took place.

The perpetrators - who wielded sticks - stole a laptop, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees (140 euros, $185) from the couple.

After the attack, the pair stopped a passing motorcyclist who took them to a police station, Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick reported. The woman received hospital treatment before they travelled on to Delhi.

Indian shame, Swiss shock

In response to the attack, state opposition leader Ajay Singh said it "had brought a bad name to Madhya Pradesh at the international level."

The Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern on Saturday said its diplomats were in touch with local authorities, adding it was keen to see the attackers swiftly brought to justice.

"We are deeply shocked by this tragic incident suffered by a Swiss citizen and her partner in India," said a ministry statement.

The attack comes three months after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi, an incident that sparked nationwide outrage. Under a legislation approved by India’s cabinet last week, rapists face a minimum 20-year prison sentence and the death penalty if the victim dies.

rc/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa)