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Silhouette of a pregnant woman

Fourteen Vietnamese women, seven of them pregnant, have been rescued from an "illegal and inhuman" surrogate baby breeding ring in Thailand, officials said Thursday.

Police said the company, called Baby 101, received orders by email or via agents from childless couples and in some instances the male partner would provide sperm to inseminate the women.

"This is illegal and inhuman. In some cases it looks like they were raped," said Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who added that those carrying children would be cared for in a private hospital.

Vietnamese women, some of whom were offered thousands of dollars per baby, were held in two houses in Bangkok and had their passports confiscated.

The women were freed after they were able to send an email to the Vietnamese embassy, which tipped off Thai authorities.

"We found 13 people in two houses when we searched, we found one more today at the hospital," said Lieutenant colonel Prasat Khemaprasit, of Immigration police. The woman at the hospital had just given birth.

"Nine of the women said they had volunteered to work because...