Women warned to stay in after attacks by rape gang

Three women have been raped so far by a gang who are dragging women off the street. Two other attempted abductions have taken place in the Midlands town in the past week. Police are patrolling the area in search of a gang of at least three black men, aged about 20, who search for victims in a blue 7-series BMW and a light-coloured Fiat Punto. They are believed to speak with South African accents.

In the latest attack, a 30-year old woman was found with head injuries in Exeter Place. She had been hit on the head before being raped sometime before 3am on Monday morning.

DCI John Jones, who is leading the investigation, said that the police were keeping an open mind as to whether the attacks were linked. "It is reasonable to assume there is a certain amount of premeditation - with a group of three there has got to be some premeditation in what they have done. We are asking all females to avoid being out alone at night or in the early hours of the morning. Use you common sense to keep yourself safe," DCI Jones said.

The Northampton Rape Crisis Centre said: "Don't go anywhere on your own, and carry a safety device. You have got to be careful."

Police were first alerted to the gang after a 15-year-old girl was dragged into a Punto in the centre of Northampton on the morning of Monday, 1 August. Three-quarters of an hour later, an 18-year-old was stopped by a man in a BMW in the Horsemarket area of the town, close to the first attack. She was pushed into the car, driven to the outskirts of Northampton, and raped.

Another 18-year-old had been raped the day before, on the morning of Sunday 31 July.

On 3 August, a 25-year-old woman was crossing the road when a BMW stopped near her. A man got out and followed her as she ran into a hospital.

DCI Jones has appealed for any other women who may have been approached or attacked to come forward. "It has taken a lot of courage for these women to come forward. If there is anybody else, please come forward."