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18 girls and women rescued in raid on Kwale madrassa

By Weldon Kipkemoi | April 20th 2020

Detectives in Kwale County at the weekend raided an Islamic school and rescued 18 girls believed to have been held against their will.

Two suspects, aged 28 and 50 and alleged to be accomplices of the proprietor of the school which is along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, were arrested in the Saturday raid and are detained at the Taru Police Station.

Kinango Police Commander Frederick Ombaka confirmed the rescue and arrests. Early reports indicated that the rescued girls would proceed on quarantine and be tested for Covid-19.

US citizens

One of the alleged victims is a US citizen and trained nurse who is said to have alerted a relative in Nairobi that she was being held against her will and under torture. The relative alerted the police, leading to the multi-agency operation.

The multi-agency team included anti-terrorism police and officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations who will establish the identities and parents of all the victims, and if they have been subjected to indoctrination and sexual exploitation.

Undisclosed dates

Yesterday, Mr Ombaka confirmed that six of the females are aged between 15 and 19, and are ethnic Somalis born in Seattle, USA.

Some of the girls told investigators that they were brought into Kenya on undisclosed dates by their relatives to study Islam. 

“They claim they were brought here by their relatives specifically to study and attend madrasa Islamic classes and to memorise the Quran, against their wishes,” Ombaka said.

According to the police, four others are orphans from one family in Mombasa’s Majengo slums.

In February, a fully equipped anti-human trafficking and child protection unit, sponsored by UK government, was opened in Mombasa regional police headquarters.

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