Hundreds of captives, many boys in chains, rescued in Nigeria

rescued from the were said to have been abused and starved

Burkina Faso

More than 300 captives, most of them children and many in chains, have been rescued from a building in the northern of .

the children, seen by a at the scene, were boys aged from five to their late teens. Some had their ankles manacled and others were chained by their legs to large hubcaps.

said the building housed an Islamic school and that seven had been arrested in the on Thursday. It was not clear how the children had been held .

The state is currently providing to the children, said Yakubu Sabo, the Kaduna . We have identified two of the children to have come from , while most of them were brought by their from across mostly northern Nigerian states.

Sabo said those arrested were teachers at the school.

Reports in said the captives had been tortured, starved and sexually abused. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm those reports, though marks that appeared consistent with injuries inflicted by a were visible on one boys back.

Islamic known as almajiris are common across the mostly north of Nigeria, the poorest part of the country where most people live on less than $2 a day. Parents often opt to leave their children to board at the schools.

The children have been moved to a temporary camp at a in Kaduna, and later be moved to another camp in a suburb of the city while attempts are made to find their parents, police said.

Some parents who had already been contacted went to the school to retrieve their children.

We did not know that they would be put to this kind of harsh condition, one told Reuters.

Islamic schools in have long been dogged by allegations of and reports that some children were forced to beg on the streets of northern Nigerian .

this year, the government of Muhammadu , a Muslim, said it planned to eventually the schools, but would not do so immediately. It followed a number of reports in the Nigerian that the government planned to outlaw such schools.

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