Bodies of 26 Nigerian ladies – most of them teenagers have been found dumped in the Meditterean Sea.
Officials say the deceased bodies are feared to have been sexually abused and killed as they were attempting to cross the sea.
Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno in connection to the story.
A Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked there carrying 375 migrants and the dead women, following several rescues.
Twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people.
Italian media report that the women’s bodies are being kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were aged 14-18.
Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan.
Among them were 90 women, eight of them pregnant and 52 children.