Villagers gather around the bodies of two teenage sisters hanging from a tree in Katra village, India, on May 28. / NNIS via AP
Police in India have arrested four men, including at least two police officers, for allegedly raping and killing two teenage girls. The girls' bodies were discovered hanging from a mango tree.
The incident took place in the village of Katra, in India's northwestern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The girls, who were 14 and 15, and are either sisters or cousins - it was not immediately clear - had gone into fields near where they lived because there was no toilet in their home, said Atul Saxena, police superintendent for the area.
Indian TV footage showed the villagers sitting under the girls' bodies as they swung in the wind, and preventing authorities from taking them down from the tree until the suspects were arrested.
The victim's families maintain that local police initially shielded the attackers, according to multiple local media reports, although that claim has not been independently verified.
Autopsies confirmed the girls had been gang-raped and strangled before being hanged, Saxena said.
He said that an investigation was still taking place into the specific circumstances of the case and that police are seeking others who may have been involved.
The Asian Center for Human Rights published a report last year revealing that 48,338 child rape cases were recorded in India from 2001 to 2011. The annual number of reported cases rose 336% over that period.
More broadly, records show a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people.
Last year, India tightened its rape laws, making gang rape punishable by the death penalty even if the victim survives the attack.
That move came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi that triggered nationwide protests and made headlines around the world.
Contributing: Associated Press, Reuters
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