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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 06:14 GMT
Burma 'acting on child soldiers'
Burmese child begging
Rights groups say brokers are paid for providing child recruits
Burma's leaders have taken action against 43 officials for recruiting child soldiers, a top general has said.

Maj-Gen Thura Myint Aung told a committee that 792 children had been returned to their parents between 2002 and 2007, a state daily reported.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused Burmese troops of forcing children to fight in conflicts with ethnic groups.

On Tuesday, the UN chief urged action against 12 armies or groups accused of using child soldiers - including Burma.

Sanctions including travel bans and financial penalties should be imposed on those groups, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council.

'Few cases'

According to the New Light of Myanmar, the general, who heads a government panel aimed at ending the practice, said that there were "only very few cases of recruiting minors".

Campaigns aimed at preventing recruitment of child soldiers had been carried out, he said, and "action taken" against those who broke the rules.

"Expatriate national traitors with negative views in collusion with some foreign media" were making groundless accusations over the recruitment of child soldiers, he said.

The Burmese military is involved in conflicts with several ethnic groups in border areas.

Human Rights Watch has estimated the number of child soldiers in Burma to be as high as 70,000.

In a report last year, the group accused the military of using children to compensate for a lack of adult recruits.

It said young children were being beaten or threatened to make them enlist. Brokers were also being paid to provide child recruits, it said.

Last week, an eyewitness told the BBC's Burmese service he saw a military recruiter rounding up three children in a Rangoon market.

"I learnt from the mothers that this sergeant routinely comes to the market and takes the kids away," he said.

"He pays the market security money to get kids for him."

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