Nine persons, including a woman, have been arrested from the port city of Kochi in connection with the sexual assault of a minor girl for several months on the pretext of providing her a job, police said on Thursday.
Of the nine, five men, including a lodge owner and his employee, were nabbed by the Ernakulam Central police.
An officer of Ernakulam Central police station said one of the five men arrested by them had allegedly befriended the girl when she arrived in the city in August looking for work and promised to find her a job.
He took her to the lodge and raped her, the officer claimed and said that subsequently, three other accused also allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Thereafter, one of the accused men allegedly handed the girl over to a woman who ran a homestay in the Palarivattom area of the city, police said.
The woman lodge owner allegedly acted as an intermediary and facilitated further sexual abuse of the girl by various other men, an officer of Palarivattom police station said.
He said the Palarivattom police have arrested four persons, including the woman lodge owner, in the case.
A POCSO case has been registered against all the accused and more arrests are expected, police said.
The incident came to light only after the girl returned home in Thrissur district of Kerala and lodged a complaint with police there.
The complaint was transferred to Kochi police which took up the investigation of the case, the officer from Palarivattom police station said.
He said the investigation was going on and did not rule out the possibility of further arrests in the case.