- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA (AP) - A crocodile seen in an Australian swamp seconds before an 11-year-old girl disappeared is suspected of attacking and killing her, police said Monday.

If confirmed, it would be the second fatal crocodile attack in northern Australia in five weeks.

The girl had been swimming with her younger sister and two friends in the swamp on the outskirts of the northern city of Darwin when she disappeared, Northern Territory Police Superintendent Michael Murphy said.

The children told police that they saw the head and tail of a crocodile “splash the surface” of the water near where the girl had vanished moments earlier, Murphy said.

A search of the swamp late Sunday and Monday failed to find the girl or the crocodile.

But police on Monday found her shorts in the water about 70 yards (meters) from where she was last seen, Murphy said.

A 5-year-old boy vanished from a river edge in northeastern Australia on Feb. 8, and officials later confirmed an attack when his remains were found in the stomach of a 14-foot (4.3 meter) crocodile.

Crocodiles have become plentiful in Australia’s tropical north since they became protected by federal law in 1971.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects age of victim, EDITS headline, ADDS details)

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