More than a hundred asylum seekers are being held tonight after a British student was gang-raped by illegal immigrants in Calais.
The woman was writing a story on asylum seekers for her journalism course when she was attacked, police said.
Up to 100 men have been rounded up as potential witnesses to the crime, which is alleged to have taken place in a notorious squatter camp nicknamed ‘The Jungle’.
Police said the attack was of a particularly ‘brutal nature’. The victim is still in Calais.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was described as ‘a London student who had travelled to France to highlight problems surrounding clandestine immigration’.
Police confirmed tonight she was born in Vancouver and also carried a Canadian passport.
A police spokesman added: ‘She appeared to be working alone, which was clearly a very dangerous thing to do.
‘We fear that the men she was reporting on attacked her in the wood where they were staying.’
The woman, who is thought to be in her twenties or early thirties, told locals she wanted to spend time with would-be illegal immigrants who were attempting to reach Britain by stowing away on lorries.
The squatter camp is in a disused industrial zone called ‘The Dunes’ and is a short walk from the ferry port.
Up to 500 men live there, supported by local charities.
Father Jean-Pierre Boutoille, of the refugee charity C’Sur, said: ‘There are lots of journalists, including students, who come here to get to the heart of what’s going on, to write reports and produce films.
‘When reporters contact us, we always ask to accompany them. We know the refugees as we see them every day.
‘We would never allow a young female adventurer in this wood, especially not at night.
‘On Tuesday we did not receive any requests for assistance, and nor did any other charities.
Yesterday, some 100 would-be immigrants to Britain were rounded up by a force of French riot police.
Most of the men claimed to be from Iraq, Afghanistan or the Middle East, although police believe many were from eastern Europe and the Balkans.
One, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Yes, I saw a young journalist with a camera. Lots come this way.
‘I don’t know who she was exactly, but she was young, perhaps 30, and a student from London.
‘The word is that something happened to her in the woods.’
In 2005 a gang of immigrants was implicated in the rape of a resident of Oye-Plage, near Calais.
Calais became a magnet for immigrants in the late 90s following the opening of the Sangatte Cross Centre, which housed 67,000 immigrants over three years.
Before its closure in 2002 following an agreement between the French and British governments, many tried to jump on to slow-moving trains at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, or hide inside lorries crossing to Britain on ferries.
The election of a new Right Wing council in Calais saw plans to open a Sangatte II abandoned, but would-be immigrants to Britain still arrive by the day.
The Home Office said the number of refugees caught entering Britain illegally from Calais has fallen to around 1,500 a year from 10,000 in 2002, when Sangatte closed.