British police have discovered two more bodies as they hunt for a serial killer who preys on prostitutes.

The latest bodies bring the total number to five, police said Tuesday.

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Paula Clennell (left) and Annette Nicholls, the two women who have been missing for about a week near Ipswich, England. ((Associated Press/ Police Handout))

Policesuspect thedead womenthey found Tuesday are Annette Nicholls, 29, and Paula Clennell, 24, two prostitutes who went missingwithin thepast week.

"We can only fear the worst," said Detective Chief Supt. Stewart Gull of the Suffolk police force.

"The natural assumption is that these are the two missing women."

All five bodies were found in the outskirts of Ipswich, a town in the region of Suffolk, about 100 kilometres northeast of London.

Gull is urging all sex workersin the areato stay home.

"We have got three prostitutes murdered, now possibly another two," he said. "I do not know what stronger warning there can be to get off the streets as soon as possible."

Police said they are looking for a serial killer, although they haven't ruled out the possibility of multiple suspects.

Police discovered the two most recent bodies about eight kilometres outside Ipswich.

The first three slain women were found naked, just a few kilometres from the town. They were discovered separately between Dec. 2 and Dec. 10, in a pond, stream and forest.

Police said one of the women, 24-year-old Anneli Alderton, 24, was strangled. Shewas not sexually assaulted.

Police could not confirm how the other two women died or if they were sexually assaulted because their bodies were in poor condition. Both Gemma Adams, 25 and Tania Nicol, 19, were found in water.

The two missing women, Nicholls and Clennell, were last seen in the neighbourhood near the town's soccer stadium, where prostitutes are known to work. Nicholls was last seen Dec. 5, while Clennell was spotted Sunday.

100investigators on the case
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Police search the bed of a waterway near Ipswich. ((CBC))

More than 100 investigators have been drafted to sort through tips and screen security footage as police waded through ponds and streams for any clues.

Police were also reviewing cold cases from the past 10 years, examining other unsolved murders. At least four are believed to involve prostitutes from the area.

Investigators appealed to Ipswich's estimated 40 sex-trade workers for tips on suspicious men.

The latest deaths have drawn intense media interest and the Ipswich afternoon newspaper labelled the prostitutes' killer the "Suffolk Strangler."

The murders have stirred memories of the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, one of Britain's worst serial killers.

Peter Sutcliffe admitted to killing 13 women, mostly prostitutes, during the 1970s. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

His murders recalled Jack the Ripper, the notorious Victorian serial killer who killed at least five prostitutes in East London in 1888. He was never caught.

With files from the Associated Press