Mombasa police raid house, free 31 women

Police in Mombasa have rescued 31 women believed to be victims of human trafficking.

Investigators said the women were aged between 18 and 22.

They were being held hostage at Shelly Beach in Likoni.

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It is suspected they were being processed by an unidentified agent for a Middle East employment bureau to provide cheap labour overseas.

The women entered the house on Wednesday. Police say the agent who was questioned and freed was housing the women in his home.

The women were still in police custody on Thursday evening.

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Likoni police chief Benjamin Rotich confirmed the rescue, saying police acting on intelligence from the public moved swiftly.

They were driven to Likoni police station and booked.

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Rotich said the women were from Lunga Lunga, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Taita Taveta.

They had been locked in a room owned by an agent in readiness to be shipped overseas for employment.

The police boss said all security departments were engaged in a rigorous scrutiny of the women, their documents, places of origin and their next of kin.

The Standard established that the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and National Intelligence agents were among detectives who spearheaded the search.

Two men were also intercepted. Police say they had been hired to cook for the women awaiting to be shipped out.

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Rotich said when police stormed the house they found that 14 of the women, the first batch, had been taken by the agent for visa and passport processing.

"We had to round up the remaining 17 and took them for profiling. We called their parents and guardians who told us they have been engaging with the agent to help them secure jobs," the police boss said.

He added that the large number of women locked in the room raised suspicion, prompting police to conduct the raid.

Rotich said women of that age might be lured by unscrupulous individuals in the name of landing overseas jobs.

"We can't take anything for granted and then later be blamed."

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When asked why the women were locked in the room and not in an office, the agent said he was trying to cut costs.

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