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Russia condemns tourist attacks in India

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • Photo released of man suspected in alleged sex attack on Russian girl
  • Suspect worked at local pharmaceutical company, Russia's Interfax reports
  • Russian Embassy accuses Indian investigators of inefficiency
  • Russians comprise the second-largest group of tourists in Goa after Britons
  • India

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Russia has expressed outrage over the alleged rape of a nine-year-old girl in an Indian seaside resort, the latest in a series of attacks reported against foreigners in the tropical tourist hotspot.

"We are shocked and deeply outraged by the reports about the disgusting incident in India's well-known resort in Goa when a nine-year-old child from Russia became another victim of a rapist," the Russian Embassy said in a statement in New Delhi Wednesday.

It also accused Indian investigators of inefficiency in their probe into the alleged sexual assault on a 25-year-old Russian woman earlier.

The embassy expressed concern over what it called an increase in crimes against Russians in Goa, a former Portuguese enclave tucked along India's west coast.

It noted that Goa's police had received several complaints of attacks on Russian tourists.

"We expect that the Indian authorities should immediately take strict and efficient measures to ensure the safety of Russian citizens," it said. "Otherwise we will have no other option but to recommend Russian tourists to refrain from visiting Goa."

More than 350,000 foreign tourists visited Goa in 2008, according to the state tourism office's Web site. In 2006, British tourists made up the largest group of foreign visitors; Russians were the second-largest group.

These are isolated incidents. But Goa is absolutely safe for foreigners.
--Goa's Police Chief B.S. Bassi

Goa's police chief, B.S. Bassi, denied his state was seeing increased crimes against foreigners in the resort area, which has been called the "Pearl of the Orient."

"These are isolated incidents. But Goa is absolutely safe for foreigners," he told CNN.

Bassi also denied Russian allegations about the handling of investigations into other alleged attacks on Russians.

Police said they have identified the man suspected in the alleged sex attack on the Russian girl, and his photo has been released.

"A hunt is on to nab him," said K.D. Singh, an inspector-general of police.

News of the attack on the nine-year-old was reported in various media outlets in Russia, and Russia's Interfax news agency reported from New Delhi that the suspect worked at a local pharmaceutical company.

Goa suffered another blow to its vacation paradise image two years ago when a 15-year-old British teenager, Scarlett Keeling, was found dead on a beach. Her clothing had been partly removed.

Local police first claimed she had drowned but later acknowledged she had been raped and killed.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation charged two men in her death in October. The CBI took over the investigation from local authorities following claims that police in Goa were trying to cover up mishandling of the case.

CNN's Maxim Tkachenko contributed to this report