The United Nations says at least two children have been beheaded in the Central African Republic. Fighting between Christians and Muslims intensified in the country in early December.
The UN agency for children said on Monday that "unprecedented" levels of violence were being committed against minors, with one of the beheaded children also having been mutilated.
"More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks," UNICEF representative in Central Africa Souleymasne Diabate said, calling for such violence to stop immediately."Targeted attacks against children are a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law."
UNICEF said it could verify the deaths of at least 16 children, along with 60 injured, adding that those who were forced into fighting by both sides in the conflict should be immediately disarmed and be protected from any reprisals.
French and African troops are struggling to contain the fighting between the majority Christians and minority Muslims in the CAR. The clashes followed a coup in March by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels, who installed Michel Djotodia as president.
At least 1,000 people have been killed this month and more than 800,000 people have been displaced.