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India arrests 3 in alleged rape of American woman

Updated at 8:22 a.m. Eastern

NEW DELHI Police say they have arrested three men for allegedly gang-raping an American woman in the northern Indian resort town of Manali.

Police Officer Vinod Dhawan says three men offered the 30-year-old woman a lift in their truck as she was hitchhiking to her guesthouse early this week. Her complaint to police alleges they drove to a secluded spot and raped her.

Dhawan said three men aged 22 and 23 were arrested Thursday near Manali, 335 miles north of New Delhi.

Police superintendent Vinod Kumar Dhawan told CBS News all three accused men were Nepalese citizens who had been working in Manali. He said they were arrested early Thursday morning after police traced the vehicle in which the alleged rape and robbery took place. He said evidence collected from the vehicle was sent to a lab for analysis.

According to Dhawan, the woman, who has not been identified, was attacked early Tuesday morning after she accepted a lift from the three men. He said the American tourist had arrived in Manali on Monday and had been on a visit to Vashisth, a nearby tourist area popular with foreigners. She was delayed and had been looking for a taxi in the early hours of Tuesday morning when the men in the truck offered her lift.

According to her statement to police, they drove her to a secluded forest area and committed the attack.

Concern about sexual assaults in India has heightened since the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi in December sparked public protests demanding better protection for women.

Even amid public outcry, a number of subsequent cases -- some of them involving Western women, and others young Indian girls -- have continued to shock both Indians and the outside world.

In the most recent case, police in Kolkata said Wednesday they had arrested a man accused of raping an Irish woman who volunteered at a children's charity.

In March, six men were arrested in the gang-rape of a Swiss cyclist, and a British hotel guest jumped from a third-floor window fearing a sexual attack when the hotel owner tried to force his way into her room.

The fatal gang-rape of an Indian student in New Delhi in December sparked protests demanding better protection for women. The government in response passed a law increasing prison terms for rape and making voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.

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