A United Nations official says that violence against children is on the rise in Afghanistan, warning that children are being used as suicide bombers and young boys are being sexually abused. VOA's U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer has the story by intern Maha Saad.

The U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, just back from a five-day visit to Afghanistan, warns that the deteriorating security situation in the country is becoming a growing danger for children. She says armed groups, including the Taliban, are recruiting minors to serve as soldiers, munitions carriers and even as suicide bombers.

"Afghan sources confirm that children under 18 are being recruited into the Taliban and other anti-government forces," said Radhika Coomaraswamy. "There has been a surge in the last few months. Children are being used even as suicide bombers."

Coomaraswamy says although there have been minimal reports of sexual violence against girls in Afghanistan's Muslim society, there have been reports that boys are being sexually abused by warlords and mujahadeen fighters.

"We are particularly concerned about what has been called the 'bacha bazi'[boy-play] system or practice where there are young boys increasingly associated with military commanders," she said.

Coomaraswamy is urging the Afghan government, the Taliban and other anti-government groups to respect the safety and dignity of children.