TOKYO (AFP) - Two US servicemen were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of gang-assaulting a Japanese woman in Okinawa, reports said, as anti-American feeling runs high on the strategically vital island. The incident comes amid swelling protests over the recent deployment on the island of 12 Osprey transport aircraft, with the plane's perceived poor safety sparking concern among local residents. National broadcaster NHK said the two men, both 23 years old, had been arrested over the alleged assault of the woman before dawn on Tuesday. One of sailors admitted carrying out the attack, but the other has denied it, according to TV Asahi.

 A spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural police refused to comment on the reports. The incident has the potential to snowball, feeding in to the increasingly vociferous anti-base movement. Previous attacks have generated huge outpourings of anger.