Kidnapped women found in cupboard

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The Independent Online

Two Chinese women, who were stuffed into a tiny cupboard for up to 10 days, have been freed after what is believed to be the biggest kidnap case in the UK, police said today.

Two Chinese women, who were stuffed into a tiny cupboard for up to 10 days, have been freed after what is believed to be the biggest kidnap case in the UK, police said today.

The two trapped women were rescued yesterday after their cries for help were heard by police officers who raided an address in east London. Seven other people were also freed from the address.

Fourteen people were being questioned by detectives today about the abduction of the victims, who were imprisoned in a cramped two-bedroom house.

Armed police freed the hostages, seven women and two men.

The operation to release the hostages began in the early hours of Monday when a male captive escaped and alerted a member of the public while wandering in the street.

Officers from Scotland Yard's Kidnap and Specialist Investigations Unit then mounted a round-the-clock operation in a bid to find the exact address.

Detective Superintendent Steve Gwilliam, who led the operation, said: "The operation is the culmination of a sophisticated and complex inquiry.

"Teams of officers have worked around the clock for several days to bring about the safe release of the hostages."

Mr Gwilliam added: "This is believed to be one of the largest kidnaps in the UK, that is the largest number of hostages."

The National Criminal Intelligence Service said last month that a number of Chinese gangs were operating in London and were kidnapping illegal immigrants who they had arranged to bring into the country.

The gangs then demanded money from the families of their captives back in China.

A police spokesman added: "The hostages were clearly shaken by their ordeal but otherwise believed to be uninjured."

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