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The Brazilian woman who said she had also been raped by the suspects last month recognized media images of the alleged attackers and contacted police.

Another foreigner has said she'd been robbed by one of the three suspects, police said.

The woman was also beaten across the face, and the man was handcuffed and beaten, at one point with a metal crowbar.

The city also will be playing host to World Youth Day, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage that will be attended by Pope Francis and is expected to draw some 2 million people in late July.

[pullquote] Three men aged 20 to 22 have been taken into custody in connection to the crime, which took place over six hours starting shortly after midnight Saturday, police said.

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A night out on the town turned into a nightmare after an American woman was gang raped and beaten aboard a public transport van while her French boyfriend was handcuffed, hit with a crowbar and forced to watch the attacks, police said.

The incidents raise new questions about security in Rio, which has won kudos for its crackdown on once-endemic drug violence in preparation for hosting next year's football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic games.The pair were heading from Rio's Copacabana beach neighborhood to the nightlife hot spot of Lapa in downtown Rio.A few minutes into the ride, the suspects forced the other passengers to get out of the van and then raped the female tourist inside the moving vehicle, Braga said.Once they hit the limit on both cards, spending around 0 at gas stations and convenience stores, the suspects drove the pair back to Rio, where the foreigners were staying, and forced the woman to fetch another credit card, Braga said.Although she was alone, she didn't call the police or alert anyone, Braga said, "because the young man was still under the suspects' control and she feared something even worse might happen to him." The two were ultimately dumped by the side of a highway near the city of Itaborai, some 50 kilometers from Rio.In general, tourists avoid the vans and opt for regular buses or taxis.Foreigners are more often the targets of muggings and petty crime in Rio, with assaults a particular problem on public transit.Though they apparently had authorization to transport passengers in Niteroi and neighboring Sao Goncalo, the suspects were not allowed to operate the van in Rio, Braga said."It appears they worked in transportation and sometimes engaged in crimes," said Braga.Officials from the local Olympic and World Cup organizing committees didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about how the attack might affect their security precautions.Braga said the two foreigners, who were in Brazil as students, took a public transport van similar to those often used as a faster alternative to the city's bus fleet.

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