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Five men questioned over gang rape of Indian nun

Five men have been detained for questioning in relation to the gang rape of an elderly nun in India. The attack has prompted India's prime minister to promise a crackdown on religious violence.

Officials in the Indian state of West Bengal said the men were being interviewed in an attempt to find the group of

six men who forced their way into a convent on Friday

, district official PB Salim said.

The men allegedly broke into the convent, ransacked the premises, tied up a security guard and gang-raped a nun, before escaping with cash, a laptop and a mobile phone, police maintain.

The nun, believed to be over 70 years of age, received medical treatment and is in stable condition in hospital, Salim added.

Amab Ghosh, a police superintendent who visited the convent, said the burglary appeared to be maliciously planned.

Police released video stills of the four men obtained from CCTV footage from the Jesus and Mary Convent where the attack occurred.

"CCTV footage showed that six men, aged between 20 and 30, scaled the boundary wall around 11.40 p.m. (1810 UTC) and entered the school and disconnected the telephone lines," Ghosh told the AFP news agency.

"At least two of them were armed and the rest were carrying burglary tools. In the chapel, a holy scripture was found torn and … a bust of Jesus was broken," he added.

Authorities have offered a reward of 100,000 rupees (1,510 euros) for information leading them to the perpetrators.

"The administration will surely apprehend the culprits and punish them. I feel the people should also come forward to help nab the culprits," West Bengal governor KN Tripathi was quoted as saying in the Times of India newspaper.

A Criminal Investigation Department probe has been ordered into the incident, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

Senior government official, Firhad Hakim, alleged the incident was connected to what he calls a rise in fanaticism in the country.

"Religious politics was being practiced in the name of ghar wapasi [return home]," the urban development minister said, referring to several right-wing Hindu groups who maintain all Christians and Muslims in India were once Hindus and operate "re-conversion" or ghar wapasi, programs for them.

Friday's attack has prompted Hindu nationalist Prime Minster Narendra Modi to crackdown on religious violence after a spate of attacks on churches.

Christians in Ranaghat held a vigil before taking part in a solidarity rally in support of the victim (pictured above), while prayers were said at church services across India on Sunday for the woman who was attacked.

"We are shocked that a thing like this has happened in our state. We want the culprits to be arrested and brought to justice swiftly," Father Saroj Biswas told the NDTV news network.

According to the 2001 census figures, India has an 80 percent Hindu population, with Muslims making up around 13 percent, and Christians 2.3 percent.

jlw/sb (dpa, AFP)

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