LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Authorities have arrested three men, including two police officers, for allegedly gang-raping and hanging two teenage sisters from a tree in a village in northern India, an official said Thursday.

Villagers found the girls' bodies hanging from the mango tree Wednesday morning, hours after they disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, said police Superintendent Atul Saxena. The girls, who were 14 and 15, had gone into the fields because there was no toilet in their home.

Autopsies showed they had been raped and strangled before being hung from the tree, Saxena said.

He said the three men were arrested Wednesday, after angry villagers blocked the main highway near the village to protest alleged police apathy and inaction in the case. Senior Uttar Pradesh government officials rushed to Katra following the protests and ordered the arrests.

Saxena said the head of the Katra police station had been suspended for not acting immediately when the girls' family complained they were missing.

India tightened its anti-rape laws last year after nationwide protests over a crime considered rampant in the country. Records show a rape is committed every 22 minutes across the nation of 1.2 billion people, though activists say that number is low because many victims are reluctant to come forward.



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