82 child soldiers saved in Democratic Republic of Congo -- U.N. force
August 17, 2013 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
Indian soldiers of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo are pictured near Goma in June 2013.
- 82 child soldiers have been rescued from an armed group, U.N mission says
- 13 girls were among the children rescued from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga
- The children range from 8 to 17 years in age; 40 have been reunited with their families
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a long history of violence
(CNN) -- Scores of child soldiers, some of them as young as eight years old, have been rescued from an armed group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. mission in the African nation said.
The 82 children, 13 of them girls, were recovered since Sunday from the Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga armed group in the southeastern Katanga province, MONUSCO said Friday in a statement.
The children, aged up to 17 years, had reportedly been recruited by the armed group within the past six months, it said.
Forty of them have been reunited with their parents.
The others are being cared for until they can be returned home, the statement said.
"We are extremely concerned by continued reports of active recruitment by Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga and other armed groups in eastern DRC," said MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler.
"Children face unacceptable risks when they are recruited for military purposes. The recruitment of children, particularly those under 15 years of age, could constitute a war crime and those responsible must be held to account."
Child protection agencies in the province orchestrated the rescues, MONUSCO said.
Since the start of the year, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been rescued from Mayi Mayi Bakata Katanga by MONUSCO and child protection workers, the statement said.
The country's mineral-rich eastern part is at the epicenter of a political and ethnic conflict involving its neighbors to the east, Uganda and Rwanda, and has long been embroiled in violence.
The region's humanitarian crisis involves 2.6 million internally displaced people, the United Nations says, with 6.4 million people in need of food and emergency aid.
Nearly 20,000 troops are deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the MONUSCO peacekeeping force.
Part of complete coverage on
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0358 GMT (1158 HKT)
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
Today's five most popular stories