JUBA, Sudan (AP) - The government of southern Sudan says they are purging child soldiers from the ranks of its former rebel army.
The Sudan People's Liberation Army on Monday launched its Child Protection Department, intended to help the army fulfill an agreement it signed with the U.N. in November. The agreement commits the army to release all the children in its ranks by the end of the year.
The U.N. Children's Fund estimates that about 900 children serve as soldiers in the south. The southern military did not say how many child soldiers it believes it has, but the chief of staff indicated it was several thousand.
Oil-rich Southern Sudan is widely expected to vote for independence from Northern Sudan in a scheduled January referendum.
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