LUCKNOW, India — Three men have confessed to the gang rape and slaying of two teenage girls who were found hanging from a tree in northern India, police said Sunday, in a case that has recast a light on rampant sexual violence in the country.
Authorities continued to search for two additional suspects in last week's attack on the 14- and 15-year-old cousins in Uttar Pradesh state, police officer Atul Saxena said.
The girls, from an impoverished family with no toilets in their home in the tiny village of Katra, about 180 miles from Lucknow, the state capital, disappeared Tuesday night after going into fields to relieve themselves.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
After the girls were found hanging from a mango tree on Wednesday, hundreds of angry villagers stayed next to the tree, demanding that police find the attackers before allowing them to remove the bodies. Indian television stations showed footage of the villagers sitting under the girls' bodies as they swung in the wind.
Police arrested two suspects on Wednesday and another on Saturday.
When questioned by police, the men admitted they had attacked the girls, Saxena said.
The suspects, who are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty.
Saxena said police were preparing identity sketches of the two missing suspects based on descriptions provided by the three men who were arrested.
Authorities also have arrested two police officers and suspended two others for failing to investigate when the father of one of the teenagers reported the girls missing Tuesday night.
Federal authorities are expected to take over investigation into the case this week, Saxena said.