Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.
According to BBC, the investigators suspect that the women, aged 14-18 years old, were sexually abused and subsequently murdered while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
The investigation has led to the detention of five migrants who are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.
The report said 23 of the dead women had been aboard a rubber boat with 64 people.
Their remains are being kept in a refrigerated section of a Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked on the Salerno port, carrying 375 migrants after other rescue operations.
Amongt the survivors were 90 other women, eight of whom are pregnant – and 52 children.
An Itallian aid group alleges that people-smuggling gangs charge migrants about $6,000 (N1.8 million) to get to Italy, travelling through the Sahara Desert to Libya and then through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse, by the gangs while on voyage.