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U.K., France warn of rape threat in India after attack on Danish tourist

A general view shows the Paharganj district, a popular tourist area packed with backpacker hotels and restaurants near New Delhi railway station on Jan. 16.


In the aftermath of the gang rape of a Danish tourist in New Delhi, the United Kingdom and France have revised their travel advisories to urge women to exercise caution when travelling in India.

The brutal attack earlier this week on a 51-year-old Danish woman highlights the plague of sexual violence in India and threatens to tarnish the country's tourism industry.

An advisory from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office notes that "serious sexual attacks" involving women from Poland, Germany and Denmark have been reported in India so far this year. It urged female tourists to be alert, even while travelling in groups.

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"Women should use caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk," says the advisory, which was updated on Thursday.

The French Foreign Ministry also amended its advisory on Thursday to mention the gang rape against the Danish woman and noted that sexual assaults were on the rise.

"Several recent incidents show that foreign women or expatriates can also be the victims of this type of behaviour," it says.

France is recommending "the utmost prudence," especially in Paharganj, a district near the Delhi train station popular with backpackers because of its discount hotels.

Canada's Foreign Affairs department did not respond to requests for comment on whether it also plans to amend its travel advisory for India. Canada's current notice mentions increased sexual violence against women, saying they should avoid travelling alone, especially at night.

Meanwhile, Indian police said Friday they had arrested three more people accused in the knife-point gang rape of the Danish tourist. A police statement says those taken into custody Friday include one juvenile. The other two are aged 20 and 24, and both are homeless.

Friday's arrests raised the number of accused attackers in police custody to six. Police said they were closing in on at least two others allegedly involved in Tuesday's attack, which lasted nearly three hours and happened near Connaught Place, a popular shopping area in the heart of New Delhi.

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Last week, an 18-year-old German charity worker said she was assaulted on a train in southern India by a fellow passenger.

Violence against women in India has caused increasing alarm since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian physiotherapy student in New Delhi in December, 2012. Several foreign tourists also have been targeted in attacks that have received international attention, although Indian women are assaulted far more frequently.

With reports from Tu Thanh Ha and The Associated Press.

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