'Starving' children are found on United States compound

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Police in the U.S. say 11 children between one and 15 were rescued in the state of New Mexico after officers raided a makeshift compound occupied by armed "extremists".

The sheriff described the conditions at the property as "filthy" and said its residents were poorly clothed, without shoes, and appeared to have had access to a limited food supply, consisting of "a few potatoes and a box of rice".

A father who took his now-missing child out of Clayton County past year was found in New Mexico, although the child is still missing.

Five adults - two men and three women - were accompanying the children.

After investigating, multiple agencies raided the compound Friday morning.

The arrests were part of the operation connected to a months-long search for an abducted three-year-old, according to New Mexico's Taos County sheriff's office. I've never seen anything like this.

Both Morten and Siraj Wahhaj, police said, were armed with AR15 rifles, loaded 30-round magazines, and loaded handguns, but eventually taken into custody without incident.

"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had", Hogrefe said. Morten faces charges of harboring a fugitive.

Police found many more ammo rounds in the ramshackle hideout, they said, which they described as "a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing, or electricity". The Sheriff's Office said Abdul Ghani was due turn 4 on August 6.

That changed when Georgia detectives forwarded a message to Sheriff Hogrefe's office that initially had been sent to a third party, saying: "We are starving and need food and water".


Police got to them after intercepting a message from either them or one of their mothers which read: 'We are starving and we need food and water'.

It was not immediately clear either had attorneys.

Hogrefe said the deputies remained on the scene into the afternoon, looking for the missing boy, but they didn't find him.

The officer added that the women and children "were brainwashed and feel great intimidation from the men that were in control of this facility".

The search warrant executed Friday followed a two-month investigation with Clayton County, Georgia, investigators and the FBI into the whereabouts of Wahhaj's son, Hogrefe said.

Siraj Wahhaj and Jany Leveille are also said to be married.

Mr Wahhaj is also wanted on suspicion of abducting his three-year-old son, but the boy was not among the group found at the compound, United States media report.

On Dec. 29, Clayton County police said they had obtained information that the group could be in the area of Taos, NM. He said none of the adults, even the women who are not being charged, would answer any questions about Abdul-Ghani, but they do believe he was there a few weeks ago. Sarij Wahhaj is being held without bail on a Georgia warrant for child abduction, deputies said. The officer who helped them had been under the impression that the group was headed to New Mexico for a camping trip.

Police say the child was reported missing in Clayton County south of Atlanta on December 10.

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