The United Nations mission in Eritrea says some of its workers have been swept up in a wave of arrests aimed at youths suspected of evading military service.

Spokeswoman Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainte said Thursday some jailed U.N. employees have been released following last week's arrests in the western town of Barentu.

She says U.N. officials have sent letters asking Eritrea's government to respect the rights of its workers and release those still in jail.

The French press agency, AFP, quotes some Eritrean youths as saying police have been conducting similar mass arrests since 1998.

Wednesday, rights group Amnesty International criticized Eritrea over last week's arrests, saying thousands were detained.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.