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2nd Nigerian school accused of abuses, hundreds escape before police raid

Hundreds of captives who were beaten, abused and held in squalid conditions at a purported Islamic school in northern Nigeria escaped prior to a raid this week, police said on Tuesday.

Nearly 300 men and boys were abused and held in squalid conditions

A police vehicle drives past the Daru Imam Ahmed Bun Hambal Islamic school, another educational facility in Nigeria where 300 students were found chained up in September. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Hundreds of captives who were beaten, abused and held in squalid conditions at a purported Islamic school in northern Nigeria escaped prior to a raid this week, police said on Tuesday.

Nearly 300 men and boys had been at the facility in the Daura area of Katsina, the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari, where police said they discovered "inhuman and degrading treatments" following a raid to free the remaining students.

It was the second such school in less than a month to be raided by police, after hundreds were freed from similar conditions in neighbouring state of Kaduna.

The 67 inmates who were freed by Katsina police were shackled in chains and many were taken to hospital for treatment, police Supt. Isah Gambo said.

"I tell you they were in very bad condition when we met them," Gambo said.

A freed captive said on Monday the instructors beat, raped and even killed the men and boys, who ranged from ages 7 to 40.

While the institution told parents it was an Islamic teaching centre that would help straighten out unruly and wayward family members, the instructors instead brutally abused them and took away any food or money sent by relatives.

Police said they had arrested the owner of the facility and two teachers, and were tracking other suspects.

The more than 200 captives who escaped were still missing, Gambo said. Police were working to reunite the others with family members.

"The inmates are actually from different parts of the country — Kano, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States," he said. "Some of them are not even Nigerians. They come from Niger, Chad and even Burkina Faso and other countries."

Islamic schools, called Almajiris, are common in the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. Muslim Rights Concern, a local organization, estimates about 10 million children attend them.

While Buhari said the government planned to ban the schools eventually, he has not yet commented on the Katsina school.

After the Kaduna raid, the president called on traditional authorities to work with government to expose "unwanted cultural practices that amount to the abuse of children."

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