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A lawyer attempts to pull the fenced window of a police vehicle carrying men (unseen) accused of raping a 12-year girl inside the high court premises in Chennai, India, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Eighteen men appeared in court in the Indian city of Chennai on Tuesday on charges of repeatedly raping a 12-year girl over a seven-month period.

The men included security guards, lift operators and plumbers working at the apartment block where the girl lived, police said.

On average, over a hundred cases of women being raped were reported every day in India in 2016, according to the most recent figures made available by the national crime records bureau. Around six of those were girls below the age of 12.

The men in Chennai sedated the girl with drugs and then took her to vacant apartments in the block to assault her, police said.

Local media reports said they had threatened her with knives, and told her they would release videos of the assault if she told anyone.

But on Saturday, the victim told her elder sister who was visiting from Delhi, prompting the family to file a complaint, the Times of India said.

Police arrested the men on Monday on charges of rape, attempted murder and criminal intimidation.

Television showed images of lawyers beating up the suspects on the staircase of the city high court as they were brought in. One cowered in a corner, trying to protect himself from the blows, while passers-by took pictures on their mobile phones.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Reuters