India police say three arrested over US tourist gang-rape

SHIMLA, India (AFP, REUTERS) - Indian police arrested three men on Thursday over the gang-rape of a US tourist who was attacked after she hitched a ride in a truck, an officer told AFP.

The 30-year-old American, who has not been identified, was picked up by three men in a truck on Monday night while hitch-hiking back to her guest house in the town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh after spending an evening with friends, police said. She had been unable to find a taxi to take her home.

The truck driver and two accomplices then abducted her and took her to a secluded spot where they raped her for over an hour, she told police.

"Three men have been arrested in connection with the rape," Mr Vinod Dhawan, police chief of Kullu district in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, where the incident occurred, said by telephone.

The suspects, who are all in their early twenties, are being interrogated by police and their truck has been seized, a police statement said.

Reuters was not able to contact any of the suspects nor confirm whether they had been charged.

The case is another in a string of sexual crimes against women that has drawn national attention in a country where a rape is reported on average every 20 minutes.

The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian woman on a bus on Dec 16 in New Delhi sparked a global outcry and brought thousands of people onto the streets of India in protest,demanding better policing to prevent sex crimes. The trainee physiotherapist later died from her injuries.