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A number of such “baby factories” have been discovered in Nigeria.—File photo

LAGOS: Nigerian police have raided an alleged illegal orphanage where they rescued young women thought to have been forced to bear children with the aim of selling them, a spokesman said Friday.

“We discovered the baby factory in Uruah local government area of the state during a raid following a tip-off,” assistant police superintendent Oyekachi Orji told AFP of the operation in southern Akwa Ibom state.

He said seven women between the ages of 18 and 20, including three who were pregnant, were freed from the home during the April 4 operation. No babies were discovered.

Three suspects including the owner, his wife and another accomplice were arrested, he said.

“The suspects usually lure young girls to get pregnant with a promise of 70,000 naira (340 euros, $445) after having their babies, which they sell to ritualists,” he said.

A number of such “factories” have been discovered in Nigeria, often intending to sell children to childless couples.

Human trafficking is widespread in west Africa, where children are bought from their families to work in plantations, mines and factories or as domestic help.

Others are sold into prostitution, and less commonly they are tortured or sacrificed in black magic rituals.

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