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32 asylum seekers rescued off Australian coast

  • The boats were spotted Thursday near the Tiwi Islands
  • Australian officials did not say what country the asylum seekers are from
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has described human trafficking as "the world's most evil trade"

(CNN) -- Australia rescued 32 people seeking asylum this week after spotting them floating on boats off the country's northwest coast.

The asylum seekers were spotted on two different boats Thursday sailing near the Tiwi Islands, the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs said. The group said they wanted to come to Australia.

The two separate rescues highlights the problem of smugglers taking asylum seekers on these dangerous trips, Australian officials said.

"People smuggling is a deplorable act with organizers putting innocent people's lives at risk. The Australian government is pleased that the group is safe," said Brendan O' Connor, minister for home affairs.

Australian officials did not say what country the asylum seekers were from. In the past, Australian officials have strongly criticized human traffickers.

Last year Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attacked smugglers after an explosion aboard a boat carrying Afghan refugees killed three people and injured more than 40 others near Ashmore.

"People smugglers are engaged in the world's most evil trade and they should all rot in jail because they represent the absolute scum of the earth," Rudd said at the time.