Indian girl, 11, raped by 17 men over weeks

File photo showing activists holding a protest against the abduction and gang-rape of five charity workers in Chochang village of the Khunti district, in Ranchi, India.

NEW DELHI - Indian police said on Tuesday (July 17) that 17 men have been arrested for allegedly raping an 11-year-old girl over several weeks, in the country's latest horrific sexual assault case.

The girl, who has a hearing disability, was allegedly sexually assaulted inside a largely unoccupied apartment block in the southern city of Chennai.

Among those arrested were the 300-unit building's security guards, plumber and lift operator, state police said.

The 66-year-old lift operator was the first to attack the girl after she returned from school and was cycling around the complex, police said.

He allegedly invited other men, who filmed one another raping the child. As the ordeal progressed, she was sedated with injections and drug-laced soft drinks, reports said.

"This is the initial stage of investigation and we have to go in-depth to ascertain the details," a local police official told Agence France-Presse.

According to local reports, the accused took the girl to various places in the complex, including the basement, terrace, gym and public restrooms, to rape her.

The incident came to light after the girl told her family who then lodged a police complaint. She is now receiving medical attention.

India has a grim record of sexual violence. Some 19,000 attacks on minors were reported in 2016, but vast numbers are never brought to police attention.

In January, India was rocked by a particularly shocking attack when an eight-year-old girl died after being kidnapped, drugged and gang-raped for days at a Hindu temple.

This led to the introduction of the death sentence for the rape of girls under the age of 12.

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