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Police: American woman gang-raped in India; 3 suspects questioned

Saurabh Das / AP file

Indian students shout slogans as they hold placards demanding stringent punishment to rapists during a protest in New Delhi, India on April 23.

An American woman was gang-raped after accepting a ride in India, where previous sex attacks have sparked angry protests and scared off female tourists.

Police said three men were being questioned Tuesday about the attack in a resort town in the foothills of the Himalayas, which is certain to focus new attention on the plight of women in India.

The attack echoes a number of other recent sex crimes in India, including the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student by six men on a bus in New Delhi in December – a crime that caused a wave of angry public demonstrations.

“The three suspects have not yet been formally arrested but the investigating team is hopeful there will be a breakthrough in the case very soon,” said B. Kamal Kumar, director of police in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

The woman was attacked after she accepted a lift by a group of men in a truck in Manali, about 300 miles north of New Delhi, according to an Associated Press report published by the Hindustan Times.

Kumar confirmed that the victim was an American citizen between the ages of 35 and 40, but was unable to say where she was from.

“This is a very unfortunate case,” he said. “A female inspector has been added to the investigation team out of consideration of the comfort of the victim.”

On Monday, police in Kolkata arrested a local businessman for allegedly drugging and raping an Irish charity worker after her birthday party, The Associated Press said.

Five men, accused of the rape and murder of a medical student in India have appeared in court. If convicted they face the death penalty. The attack on a bus three weeks ago sparked outrage and violent protests in the country. ITV's Geraint Vincent reports.

Earlier this year, a study in India found that the number of female tourists had fallen amid publicity over the attacks and concern about India's attitudes to sex crimes.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in New Delhi said: "We are in contact with authorities but due to issues of privacy we have no further comment."

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