A man has been arrested over a serious sexual assault on an 11-year-old girl that stoked fears of a possible serial attacker in a popular holiday area of central France.
Camp sites in the Ardeche region had been told to step up
security following Wednesday's attack on the girl that has been linked to a
string of similar assaults at camp sites in recent weeks.
The 32-year-old suspect was arrested on Friday
"without difficulty'' at his home in Privas, the capital of the Ardeche
region, and taken into police custody, the public prosecutor in charge of the
probe, Franck Alzingre, told AFP.
The man, "who comes from the centre of the Ardeche'',
was "suspected of rape and sexual aggression against a minor'', Alzingre
said, without making it clear whether the rape accusation concerned the little
girl at the camp site.
Alzingre had said earlier that there was no evidence of a
link between the latest attack and other incidents which have occurred on camp
sites in the area since the end of June.
"At the moment we have not established a link between
this week's attack and the other cases but we are not ruling out any avenue of
investigation,'' he told reporters.
Although Alzingre played down suggestions a serial rapist
could be operating in the region, he confirmed that a squad of 50 officers has
been assigned to the case, far more than would normally work on a single crime.
The girl was attacked by a man in the early hours of
Wednesday as she slept in a tent alongside her younger sister at a camp site in
Saint-Didier-sous-Aubenas, in the south of the Ardeche.
Police had earlier said that as many as seven girls
between the ages of seven and 12, one of whom was Dutch, had been attacked in
the area in the past six weeks.
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