Five children held over the attempted murder of boy, 5

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Five children have been arrested over the attempted murder of a five-year-old boy who suffered "horrific injuries" after apparently being tied around the neck with a rope and beaten.

Five children have been arrested over the attempted murder of a five-year-old boy who suffered "horrific injuries" after apparently being tied around the neck with a rope and beaten.

Police are searching for another two or three youngsters in connection with the attack in woodland in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

A senior detective said the victim had "marks around his neck that could be consistent with ligature marks" and "the injuries look quite horrific". He also had bruises over his body. The boy was found at around 6pm on Tuesday wandering close to his home in the Chickenley area of Dewsbury.

Police arrested four local children - two girls aged 11 and 12, and two boys aged 11 and 12 - several hours after the boy was discovered, and a fifth, a 12-year-old boy, yesterday.

The victim, who was injured during a 30-minute period in a wooded area known locally as Devil's Ditch behind the Earls-heaton medical centre in Dewsbury, was being questioned and filmed by specialist officers yesterday.

A cousin of the victim, who has four siblings, claimed that the boy had been playing in the garden at home when an older child took him to Earlsheaton Park about half a mile away.

According to the cousin, the couple met up with some children who took him into the woodland where they later abandoned him. The victim eventually walked home, where the cousin found him. She said: "When he saw me he just burst into tears. He was shook up and dazed. He was frantic and crying. I asked him 'What the hell happened'. He said: 'Some boys and girls tied a rope around my neck and tried to tie me to a tree.'"

The boy, who was wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans, had scratches on his arms and a bright red rope mark and bruises around his neck, the cousin said. She added: "[He] is normally a happy, bubbly child and does as he is told. He was enjoying the holidays and the sunshine."

The mother of the boy had been desperately looking for him, the cousin said. She explained: "She was frantic. She could not find him. She was shouting his name around the estate.

"He knows he is only allowed to play in the garden or on the little green outside the house. She tells him that all the time. He is a good lad, quite small for his age and always full of beans. His mum had told him to stay where she could see him. She was washing up in the kitchen. She went to shout him in and he had gone."

Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, who is heading the inquiry, said: "There are injuries to his neck. It's too early to say whether these were caused by a rope around his neck ... The victim is a five-year- old child who has suffered some serious injuries which is why those arrested last night were arrested for attempted murder.

"He's got a number of bruises to his body. He has marks around his neck, which could be consistent with ligature marks - there are marks which cause me concern ... The injuries look quite horrific."

The detective said a number of items were recovered from the scene, but refused to give any details as to what these were. Asked whether the boy was abducted, he said: "Anything's possible."

He added that more arrests were expected and the police were looking for two or three more suspects.