Three sisters ages 6, 9 and 11 were raped, murdered and their bodies thrown into a well last week in the western Indian state of Maharastra, a senior police officer told Efe on Wednesday.

The girls disappeared on Feb. 14 after leaving school and their bodies were found two days later in a well half a kilometer (a third of a mile) from their house in the town of Murmadi, police superintendent Arti Singh said.

"The three (girls) were raped before being murdered," Singh said.

The girls were lured with food by unknown abductors, the victims' grandfather told NDTV television.

The children had lost their father four years ago and were living with their mother in extreme poverty.

Murmadi residents complained that authorities tried to categorize the case as an accident and that only after street protests did police began investigating the deaths.

Police created five teams to seek the murderers and offered a reward of around $900 for information leading to their arrests.

The gang-rape of a 23-year-old student last December sparked protests and an unprecedented debate about the situation of women in India.

After huge protests over that case, the Indian press began daily reporting on sexual abuse and violence against women and girls nationwide, a move that has forced the government to take measures such as creating fast-track courts to hear sexual assault cases. EFE