Kenyan police have arrested seven Somali men for allegedly operating a human trafficking ring at a refugee camp in the country’s east, authorities said Wednesday.
The suspects had been smuggling refugees from Dadaab camp to Nairobi, where they used fake documents to leave for Europe and Canada, Northeastern Regional Coordinator Mohamed Saleh said.
A court has said police can hold the suspects for 10 days to complete investigations.
Kenya wants to close Dadaab, which hosts more than 200,000 Somali refugees, saying the camp has become a training ground for al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants based in neighboring Somalia. The government has offered no proof. A Kenyan court in February blocked the camp’s planned closure in May, calling the order to close it unconstitutional.
Al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the extremists.
Droughts and instability have displaced more than 2 million Somalis in recent decades, with about 900,000 sheltering in regional countries. The U.N. refugee agency says Kenya hosts the highest number, around 324,000.
The arrests come nearly a week after Kenya’s security agencies arrested another group of suspected human traffickers on the coast and accused them of facilitating the movement of recruits for the Islamic State group and financing the extremist group. The suspects included a Somali-born man and two Kenyans.