U.N. reports children used as combatants in Iraq
Reports cites human rights violations on all sides
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(CNN) -- The United Nations on Wednesday called attention to a disturbing trend in the Iraq war: child insurgents.
"Of particular concern are reports of attacks involving children acting as combatants," the world body said in its report, written by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq.
"A boy said to be aged between 10 and 13 years allegedly carried out a suicide bombing targeting the police commander in the city of Kirkuk. Later that month, two boys aged 12 and 13 years reportedly carried out attacks against [U.S.-led forces] in Fallujah and Hweeja, respectively."
The report is apparently referring to the town Hawija, which is southeast of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Falluja is in western Iraq.
Over the years, human rights groups have raised the alarm over child soldiers and combatants in other conflicts, including those in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Uganda.
The report, which covers November 1 through December 31, estimates that 20 percent of all civilian deaths in the Iraq war are women and children.
An October Pentagon report roughly estimated that nearly 26,000 Iraqis were killed or wounded by insurgent attacks between January of 2004 through September 16, 2005.
Iraqi children are "gravely affected" by the ongoing violence, the U.N. report said.
"Scores of children have been killed in indiscriminate bombings and by indirect fire," the report said. "Some surveys suggest that a large number of children in Iraq have lost one or both parents as well as close family members to violence."
The report touches on a range of rights violations in Iraq, the longstanding insurgent attacks, violence surrounding the December 15 election and problems involving the Interior Ministry.
"The persistent conflicts affecting the country and weaknesses in law enforcement continue to have a serious and adverse effect on the enjoyment of human rights," it said. "Ongoing attacks by armed groups, acts of terrorism, violent crimes, large-scale arbitrary arrests and evidence of mistreatment in detention centers together presented a pattern of major human-rights violations."
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