CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa police have asked U.S. military police on Okinawa for help finding a suspect in a rape investigation.

About 2 a.m. Sunday, a Caucasian man reportedly entered an apartment in Chatan, near camps Foster and Lester and Kadena Air Base, and attacked a woman while she was sleeping, an Okinawa police spokesman said Tuesday. The attacker was described as being about 40, with brown, curly hair.

“We suspect he may be a servicemember or civilian employee of the U.S. military,” the spokesman said. “So we sent an inquiry to the military.”

According to the police report, the Okinawa woman, in her 20s, left her apartment door unlocked for a relative who lives with her. She said she was assaulted while she slept.

The police are investigating the case as a rape. A police spokesman said she appears not to have known her attacker.

Okinawa officials said it was too early to tell if the case involved a member of the U.S. military. Serious crimes, such as rape and arson, have sparked public outrage against the military in the past and relations are frayed in the wake of an Aug. 13 crash of a Marine helicopter in Ginowan.

“It would be too premature to make a comment at this time,” said a spokesman for the prefecture’s military affairs office.

Military officials also were being cautious.

“We are aware that Okinawa Prefectural Police are investigating a sexual assault of a Japanese female by an unidentified assailant,” said Chip Steitz, a public affairs spokesman for the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base. “At this time, this heinous crime is not tied to an individual belonging to any group or organization on-island.”

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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