AN investigation has been launched after four teenage Army recruits complained they were sexually assaulted at a military base.

A vacuum cleaner was reportedly used in the alleged attack at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

It is said the alleged assaults on four 16 and 17-year-olds were part of an initiation ritual.

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An investigation has been launched at the college, which trains young people to become junior soldiers, after 20 cadets allegedly administered the “beasting”.

According to reports, it is feared an initiation game went out of control as the young soldiers “egged each other on”.

It is understood all junior soldiers were called back to barracks on Saturday from a weekend off.

A national newspaper reported that a staff sergeant told recruits that four trainees had been “assaulted and brutalised”.

The source said: “Apparently a Hoover was involved. It’s horrifying and the Army are taking it very seriously.”

All four recruits were checked by the college’s medical staff and treated for shock.

An Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We can confirm that allegations of sexual assault have been made against junior soldiers at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, by fellow junior soldiers under training.

“The matter is subject to a Special Investigation Branch investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further while this is ongoing.

“All those who are found to fall short of the Army’s high standards or who are found to have committed an offence under the Armed Forces Act are dealt with administratively, up to and including discharge or through the discipline process, as appropriate.”

The Army has made efforts to stamp out beasting and bullying at its training centres following a string of scandals.

In 2007, three recruits were thrown out of the Parachute Regiment following a police investigation into claims a soldier was sexually assaulted by comrades at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick Garrison.

Footage of the incident was filmed on a mobile phone.