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Indian police have arrested four Bangladeshi nationals in connection with the rape of an elderly nun that led to protests by the country's Christian community.

Police officials tracked the suspects down to the northern state of Punjab after CCTV images and e-fit images were circulated nationwide.

The nun, who is in her 70s, needed surgery after she was attacked last month by a gang of robbers who had broken into the convent school in the eastern state of West Bengal where she lived.

"Four more Bangladeshi nationals resembling the photographs and sketches of the suspects in the rape and robbery at the Convent of Jesus and Mary High School in Ranaghat have been arrested," said Deputy inspector general Dilip Kumar Adak.

Two other suspects in the case are already in custody after they were arrested last week.

Adak said police had identified all eight people who broke into the convent using CCTV footage.

One had been hired by the nuns to do construction work, he said. India is reportedly home to tens of thousands of Bangladeshis who officials say cross without valid permits into the country.

Many Christians protested in support of the victim after the incident and against what they feared was a climate of hatred against Indians who are not Hindu.

The community has been targeted in a series of arson attacks on religious institutions mostly in Delhi since December.

Priests and other Christian leaders have blamed those attacks on religious hardliners who have become emboldened since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power at general elections last year.

Source: AFP