VIENNA, Austria (AP) – A stalker beat Somalia-born supermodel and bestselling author Waris Dirie in her Vienna apartment, and police on Wednesday arrested a 26-year-old Portuguese suspect.

Dirie suffered minor injuries in Tuesday’s attack, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Dirie could not be reached for comment, and her agent in New York did not immediately return a phone message.

The attack occurred just a week after Dirie had moved from Britain into an apartment in Vienna, the Austrian state broadcaster ORF and the Vienna newspaper Kurier said.

Dirie, a prominent model and a women’s rights activist who has campaigned against the practice of female genital mutilation in some African countries, is the author of the bestselling autobiography “Desert Flower,” and two sequels, “Desert Dawn” and “Nomad’s Daughter.”

A former goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Population Fund, Dirie appeared in “The Living Daylights,” a 1987 James Bond film. She has modeled in Chanel perfume ads and has appeared on numerous magazine covers.

Harald Hofmayer, a Vienna police official, told the Austria Press Agency that the suspect, identified only as Paulo A., was under the illusion that he had a relationship with Dirie and had stalked her for the past six months. He showed up at her door on Tuesday, he said.

“She was so frightened and in shock that she let him in,” Hofmayer said. Dirie suffered minor injuries when her assailant struck her and threw her to the floor, police said.

Hofmayer said the attacker left by a taxi, only to return later on foot and smash a ground-floor window to the building. He was arrested when neighbors called the police.

The suspect was being detained but had not yet been charged, police said.

The suspect met Dirie about six months ago, when his brother was doing some work at her previous residence in Britain, the police official said. He later broke into that home and stole items of her clothing, the official said.

Dirie has spoken out frankly about being a victim of ritual genital mutilation at age 5 in her native Somalia.

When her father, Dahire, arranged for her to marry an elderly man in exchange for five camels, she ran away from home. Just 13 years old, the skinny girl walked 300 miles across Somalia to the capital, Mogadishu.

She moved to Britain, where an uncle served for four years as Somalia’s ambassador, and was discovered by a photographer and hired as a model for Revlon, Inc.

AP-ES-03-10-04 1636EST



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.