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Canberra sex workers 'violently' sexually assaulted, robbed by three men

Canberra sex workers were targeted by a group of three men in a series of brutal sexual assaults, detectives have confirmed.

ACT Policing's Detective Sergeant David Crowe said at least six women were sexually assaulted and robbed by the men from March to May and police believe there are more victims.

Some attacks were carried out at knifepoint and Sergeant Crowe said there was a high degree of violence involved.

"There is no one particular website or social media platform that is being targeted. There's no one ethnic group of sex workers that are being targeted," he said.

"It appears to be random but we believe the same group of guys is responsible."

They would meet in apartments or hotel rooms. One man would make the appointment and later let the other two in.

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Then the men would brutally attack and rob the sex worker, Sergeant Crowe said.

Operation Sparren started last month to try to identify the men.

Sergeant Crowe said no charges had been laid since the operation began.

Two of the men are described as Middle Eastern or Indian in appearance and the third man is of African appearance. The men are believed to be aged in their 20s or 30s.

Police would not say whether the crimes were linked to the rape and robbery of a sex worker in an inner-city apartment in May.

"What I am asking for is any information out there to be presented to police so we can positively identify these guys and bring them to a stop," Sergeant Crowe said.

"We can help you in that process, we have support services available. You will be treated professionally and with the utmost respect. You will not be judged by anyone from Operation Sparren.

"If you are not comfortable with speaking with police, please contact the Sex Worker Outreach Program. They are a peer-based support service and will be able to help you through the process. Or please contact Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, who will also help you through the process."

He said sex workers were a "vulnerable group" and urged them to take precautions.

"The general safety rules of letting someone know where you are, trying not to be alone [apply here]. If you make an appointment with someone and you don't like them or don't like the look of them, call police, don't be frightened to call police," Sergeant Crowe said.

Philippa Moss, executive director of the AIDS Action Council, which runs the Sex Worker Outreach Program, said crimes against sex workers were underreported due to the stigma of the industry.

"In the ACT, sex work is a legal occupation. I want to encourage all sex workers who need information, assistance or support to contact Sex Worker Outreach Program's education officer Lexxie Jury," she said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact ACT Policing on 131 444 or via Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

Victims can also contact the Sex Worker Outreach Program on 6257 2855.