Law enforcement authorities and civil society in New Zealand are searching for witnesses and clues in order to apprehend the culprit of a savage crime perpetrated against a 5-year-old girl. A detective called the vicious attack one of the worst he has seen in his 28 year career.

On the evening of December 21 at a camper site in Turangi, on New Zealand’s North Island, a mother returned from just yards away from her family’s camper to find a man inside lying on top of her daughter. She screamed and ran to find her husband. When they returned, they found the suspect had departed but left the tyke with severe head injuries and unconscious at the Club Habitat tourist camp. The child is now in stable yet serious condition in hospital following surgery at Waikato hospital. The family, visiting from Europe, has received support and sympathy from New Zealanders shocked by the attack. The couple’s three-year-old son, who was present for the attack, was unharmed.

According to local media, detective Mark Loper said "The attack was brutal, on a young defenseless child who should have been spending Christmas on a dream holiday with her family. Her parents are absolutely distraught. They have expressed to us that their privacy is very important to them and they have asked for some space." The detective, reeling from reports of the crime added, said of the girl's injuries they are significant and heart-wrenching. The nature of her injuries lead us to believe that the attack was sexually motivated".

Police have spoken to at least 16 people staying at the park and are still seeking witnesses. It remains to be seen whether the perpetrator was staying at the camp or whether it was an attack by someone who came into the property. There was a burglary the night before at the camp. Police say they are leaving no stone unturned in the search and appeal to the public for cooperation and clues.

New Zealand's North Island is famed for its spectacular forests and mountains, drawing visitors from around the world. Scenes from the Lord of the Rings film series were shot there.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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