LUCKNOW, India – Three detained suspects have confessed to the gang rape and slaying of two teenage girls who were found hanging from a tree in northern India last week, police said Sunday.
The search for two additional suspects continued Sunday for a fourth day, police officer Atul Saxena said.
India has a long history of tolerance for sexual violence. But the gang rape and killing of the 14- and 15-year-old cousins in Uttar Pradesh state caused outrage across the nation. The two girls, from an impoverished family with no toilets in their home, disappeared Tuesday night after going into fields to relieve themselves.
Saxena said that police were preparing identity sketches of the two missing suspects based on descriptions provided by the arrested suspects in the tiny village of Katra, about 180 miles from Lucknow, the state capital.
The three suspects detained so far in the attack are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty.
Authorities also have arrested two police officers and suspended another two for failing to investigate when the father of one of the teenagers reported the girls missing.
Federal authorities are expected to take over investigation into the crime this week, Saxena said.
Also in Uttar Pradesh state, police on Sunday arrested two people for setting a 16-year-old girl on fire after sprinkling kerosene on her following a land dispute with her father in Kaptanganj, nearly 125 miles southeast of Lucknow.
The girl was hospitalized with burns over a quarter of her body, said Mukul Goel, an inspector-general of police.