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Nine-year-old boy survives attack by alligator in the US

By Natasha Culzac

A nine-year-old boy will have the best playground story when he returns to school next term - after fighting off a 400-pound alligator.

James Barney sustained 30 marks from the 9ft-long creature's claws and teeth, all of them non-life-threatening, but had surgery to clean and stitch his wounds.

Speaking from Florida's Arnold Palmer hospital, James told reporters that he did not initially realise what was happening as the reptile approached him.

"It really amazed me what happened," said James.

"At first I thought someone was just playing with me and I didn't know what happened.

"I reached down to go grab it and I felt its jaw – I felt its teeth and I didn't know what to do, so I immediately reacted and hit a couple of times.

"And then finally I had enough strength left to pry its jaw open a little."

Lake Tohopekaliga, a popular tourist spot near Kissimmee, had some of its nearby swimming areas closed while investigations began, and trappers were out in force to try and catch the alligator.

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