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India rape victim's companion recounts attack

NEW DELHI -- The companion of a woman who was gang-raped aboard a bus in New Delhi recounted in a television interview for the first time Friday how the pair was attacked for 2 1/2 hours before being thrown on the side of the road, where passersby ignored them and police debated jurisdiction issues before helping them.

The Dec. 16 attack has outraged Indians and led to calls for tougher rape laws and reforms of a police culture that often blames rape victims.

The 23-year-old woman died last weekend from massive internal injuries suffered during the attack. Authorities charged five men with her murder and rape and were holding a sixth suspect believed to be a juvenile. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Saturday.

The woman and her male friend had just seen the movie "Life of Pi" at an upscale mall and were looking for a ride home. An autorickshaw driver declined to take them, so they boarded the private bus with the six assailants inside, the companion told the Indian TV network Zee TV. Authorities have not named the man.

After a while, the men on the bus starting harassing and attacking the pair, he said.

"I punched them hard. But then two others hit me with an iron rod," he said. The woman tried to call the police using her mobile phone, but the men took it away from her, he said. They then took her to the rear seats of the bus and raped her.

"The attack was so brutal . . . even animals don't behave like that," he said.

The men dumped them, bleeding and naked, under an overpass. He waved to passersby on bikes, in autorickshaws and in cars for help. "They slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," he said.

After about 20 minutes, the man said, three police vans arrived and the officers argued over jurisdiction as he pleaded for clothes and an ambulance.

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