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MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea (August 31, 1999 – Post-Courier)---At least 14 girls were allegedly attacked in a mass rape by youths believed to have been students at Togoba High School last Tuesday.

Togoba Health Center nurses confirmed yesterday that one of the victims had gone to the clinic for treatment.

A nursing sister said the other girls had not shown up for testing or given their account of the incident.

"Only one of the victims came to the hospital after being raped, and the test done on her was positive.

"The rest have not yet shown up,'' she said.

The nursing sister said many of the girls were ashamed of going to health authorities to give reports on the incident.

The 38 student suspects, who allegedly entered the girls' dormitory, are now in Mount Hagen police cells.

Police in Mount Hagen have yet to lay formal charges against the suspects.

Police sources said they need more evidence before they could charge the suspects.

The sources said they need the victims to come and identify the suspects.

Acting provincial police commander Giossi Labi said none of the suspects had been charged, but they still are in custody.

Mr. Labi said the suspects were not allowed bail because the situation was volatile.

Parents of the suspects in custody have been visiting the Mount Hagen police station every morning since the suspects were detained last week.

The police commander said it was a very sensitive issue and police wanted to handle it carefully.

Reports from the school stated that one of the suspects had set fire to a classroom building on the night of the attack. Later a group of male students attacked the headmaster of the school and damaged the school vehicle.

When the headmaster, his deputy and other students cleared the place, the rowdy students allegedly made their way into the female dormitory and attacked the female students.

All the students at the school were sent home after the incident and classes have been suspended for an indefinite period.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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