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Rape and murder suspects shot dead ‘after trying to steal police guns’

Four men suspected of raping and killing a female vet have been shot dead by police after they allegedly tried to snatch officers’ guns.

They were in custody and had been taken to the scene of the murder early on Friday for a crime reconstruction.

Police said the suspects died in “cross-fire” after they attempted to snatch the weapons.

Senior officer Prakash Reddy told reporters: “While the reconstruction and investigations were on, one of the accused signalled to the others and tried to escape.

“They then tried to snatch weapons from the guard and fired on the police. They were killed in the cross-fire.”

Two policemen were injured in the shooting.

The 27-year-old rape victim’s burned body was discovered by a passer-by in an underpass on Thursday last week in the town of Shadnagar, near Hyderabad.

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She had left her scooter at a toll booth for a medical appointment the night before.

The four men are said to have deflated her scooter tyre and taken her to a truck yard to help repair it – where the crime is believed to have taken place.

The killing is one of a several high-profile cases to spark demonstrations in recent years
Image: The killing is one of several high-profile cases to spark demonstrations in recent years

The case has caused a nationwide uproar in India.

Protests across the country called for a fast-track hearing and capital punishment for the men.

In parliament this week, one MP called for a public lynching of the accused.

Sky’s Neville Lazarus, in India, says the killing of the men has divided the nation, with many supporting the police but others saying they have become judge, jury and executioner.

The victim’s father told the news agency ANI: “It’s been 10 days to the day [since] my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this.

“My daughter’s soul will be at peace now.”

Rape and murder suspects in police van
Image: The suspects being transported in a police van several days ago

The victim’s sister said she was “very happy” and that the police’s action would serve as an example.

The killing of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, drew parallels with the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in 2012.

That crime sparked widespread protests and drew international attention to violence against women in India.

India is grappling with atrocities against women.

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau of India, there were 33,658 reported cases of rape and sexual assault in 2017.

Filtered down, that is 2,805 cases a month or four such cases every hour.

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