An armed group in South Sudan has abducted at least 89 boys in a northern state, the UN children's agency said today. The boys, some as young as 13, were abducted near Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, according to a UNICEF statement. Armed men surrounded the community and searched house by house, forcibly taking boys older than 12, said witnesses. The abductions were carried out while the children were doing their exams in the Wau Shilluk area. The number of those abducted could be much higher.
It is not clear which group carried out the abductions. Malakal, which is currently under government control, has recently seen intense fighting between rebel forces and government troops who accuse each other of violating multiple peace agreements. Last year, 12,000 children were used as soldiers by armed forces and groups across South Sudan, according UNICEF.