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North Afghan police crack down on child sex abuse

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan police have begun a crackdown on child sex abuse in the north of the country after several offenders were arrested recently, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

“The number of sexual assaults on children in northern Afghanistan has seen a significant increase,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

“In order to safeguard children and babies, the Interior Ministry has begun a series of crackdowns that up to now have generated positive results,” it said.

The statement comes after a man was arrested by police in the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif on Thursday morning for sexually abusing a young boy in a video-game arcade.

Police received a tip-off the assault was taking place and as a result were able to arrest the man and close down the arcade hall, the ministry said.

The Afghanistan Human Rights Organization (AHRO) said it had received information last month that a group of men raped a 3-year-old girl in northern Jowzjan province.

“We are trying to find out more about the case,” said Maghfirat Samimi of the AHRO, but she could not give any further details due to the sensitivity of the case.

But Samimi expressed concerns over the increased number of rapes in the north of the country.

“We are very concerned. We have had many cases of rapes in northern Afghanistan. Children are being sexually exploited and we need to protect their rights,” said Samimi

Five armed men also raped a 12-year-old girl in northern Sar-I-Pol province in June and a 10-year-old girl was raped in Jowzjan province in January, AHRO said.

Reporting by Jonathon Burch and Tahir Qadiry in Mazar-I-Sharif; Editing by Paul Tait