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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Five charity workers gang-raped in India

Victims were working in a remote tribal to raise awareness of human trafficking when they were attacked

Protesters stand outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi during a demonstration against recent rapes on April 15, 2018. Oinam Anand / AP Photo
Protesters stand outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi during a demonstration against recent rapes on April 15, 2018. Oinam Anand / AP Photo

Five women working for a charity in a remote area of eastern India were abducted and gang-raped at gunpoint, in the latest horrific sex assault in the country.

The women told police they were performing a play to raise awareness about human trafficking in the largely tribal Khunti district of Jharkhand state on Tuesday when they were abducted.

The rapists shot videos of the assault and threatened the women if they went to the police.

Police officer Rajesh Prasad said the women worked for the non-governmental organisation Asha Kiran, which is supported by a local Christian missionary group.

He said the women had undergone medical tests and that police were awaiting the results.

Sexual crime in India has been in the global spotlight since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a woman on a New Delhi bus sparked nationwide protests.

But the number of reported sex attacks has grown since then, with about 39,000 cases nationwide in 2016.

Jharkhand has especially been in the spotlight after three teenagers were raped and burnt alive in separate incidents last month.

Mr Prasad said several people were being questioned over the latest assault.

Police have also rounded up some supporters of Pathalgadi, an anti-establishment self-rule movement popular in several tribal villages.

Pathalgadi supporters resent outsiders and do not allow them to enter or settle in their area.

Khunti is also a hotbed of Maoists, armed guerrillas who have been waging a decades-long insurgency mainly for land rights.