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Mob lynches 1, injures 3 on child kidnapping rumors in India

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New Delhi, Jul 15 (AP) - Police in southern India have arrested nearly three dozen people for participating in the lynching of a young engineer and wounding three men, including a Qatari national, after rumors that the victims were members of a gang of child kidnappers.
Police said Sunday that the victims were traveling in a car through a village in Karnataka's Bidar district when a mob armed with sticks and stones attacked them on Friday night.
The villagers were infuriated after the men tried to hand over some chocolates to village kids, said police of-ficer Chandrashekhar, who uses only one name.
The kids panicked, attracting local villagers who started beating them, the officer said. The men gave them a slip but locals had already clicked their pictures and a video and circulated them through WhatsApp to alert neighboring villages that four child abductors were trying to escape, he said.
The officer said as the men reached another village, they hit a roadblock set up by the awaiting villagers and their car flipped. The mob of some more than 2,000 people attacked them, killing one and wounding the three others, he said.
As the assault continued, police tried to stop the mob, triggering clashes in which four police officers sustained injuries, Chandrashekhar said.
The slain man was a 32-year-old software engineer from the neighboring state of Telangana and was visiting a friend with his cousins and a Qatari friend.
"My brother gave chocolates to children. We don't know what their parents thought but several villagers gath-ered and beat them. How can they think they were kidnappers?" said the slain engineer's brother, according to the New Delhi Television.
The injured were hospitalized. One was in serious condition.
The video of the mob violence, which was aired by Indian broadcasters, showed the mob carrying sticks and beating the men as police pleaded for them to stop.
Earlier this month, five people were killed in a similar attack in western India.
India has seen a string of mob attacks in the past few months ignited by messages circulated through social me-dia that child lifting gangs were active in villages and towns. At least 20 people have been killed and dozens injured in such attacks since early May.
Although Indian authorities have clarified that there was no truth to the rumors and that the targeted people were innocent, the deadly and brutal attacks, often captured on cellphones and shared on social media, have spread across the country.