Qatar has announced to investigate allegations that women traveling on 10 flights were subjected to invasive examinations at an airport in Doha.
The women were checked if they had given birth as a baby girl was found at Hamad Airport on October 2.
The Australian government said that at least 18 Australians were examined along with women from other countries.
Qatar’s government apologized and assured that the baby was safe in medical care in Doha.
It said the infant had been found in a plastic bag, buried under rubbish, prompting an “immediate search for the parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found”.
“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveller caused by this action,” a statement read.
Australia said it was receiving assistance from Qatar and coordinating efforts with “two or three” other nations whose citizens were affected.
The invasive examinations came this week after passengers contacted authorities in Australia.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne revealed on Wednesday a total of 18 Australian women had been examined, five more than reported earlier this week.
Australian media have previously reported that all adult women who had boarded one plane from Doha to Sydney were ordered to disembark. On Monday, Australia’s foreign ministry said reports had indicated the incident was “beyond circumstances in which the women could give free and informed consent”.
But it declined to call it a sexual assault while awaiting further details from Qatari officials. Opposition politicians in Australia have called it sexual assault.