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India arrests police officers over gang rape

Police say they have arrested four men charged over the rapes and murders of two girls found hanged in northern India. Neighbors of the victims accuse police of ignoring a complaint that the girls had gone missing.

Officials revealed on Thursday that at least two of the men they arrested over the rape and murder of two girls in the state of Uttar Pradesh were serving police officers.

Police arrested four men late on Wednesday, following a silent protest by villagers from Katra, some 300 kilometers (180 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow. Authorities said they were still searching for a further three suspects.

Villagers - who accused the police of inaction - found the two girls' bodies hanging from a tree early on Wednesday, after they had disappeared near their home. The girls - aged 14 and 15 - had been in a nearby field because they had no toilet at home.

Hundreds of the girls' neighbors staged a protest by the tree throughout Wednesday, preventing authorities from taking the bodies down until arrests were made.


subsequent autopsy

showed that the girls had been raped and strangled, before they were hanged.

Villagers accused the local police chief - who has now been removed - of having ignored a report by the girls' father that they were missing. The family is part of the Dalit community - also known as the untouchables - which is considered the lowest rung of India's ancient caste system.

rc/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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