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PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Thirty-two pregnant Cambodians were detained on Friday for their suspected involvement in an illegal surrogacy operation, carrying babies for Chinese clients, a court official said on Friday.

Five other people, including a Chinese person, were arrested and charged with human trafficking following raids at two apartments in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

The pregnant women were discovered during the raids last month and 32 were charged with cross border human trafficking on Thursday, said Y Rin, a spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court. They were placed in pretrial detention.

Cambodia had been a popular international destination for infertile couples looking to have babies through commercial surrogacy, a practice made illegal in 2016.

Police have said that each of the 32 women was promised $10,000 (£7,555)for carrying baby for Chinese clients.

Once a woman becomes pregnant she receives $500, police said. When the baby is delivered, she is paid $300 a month until the full $10,000 is paid off.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Reuters