32 of the children aged 14-17 were arrested during battles between Kamuina Nsapu militiamen and police, while the other 20 handed themselves over to police.

According to Kasai central security officer, Lt. Paul Masala, the children confessed that they did not willingly join the militia group.

''Most of them said that they were forced into the militia after being abducted from their villages. They said that they were later trained and taught how to kill without mercy,'' Masala told Anadolu Agency.

He said the children promised that they would no longer resort to joining any militia group.

He said that the chief guest at the handover ceremony, Minister for Interior Ramazani Shadari called on the other members of the militia to surrender. He warned that all those who will not surrender soon will face the wrath of police and army.

He emphasized that officials from MONUSCO and UNICEF said the children were going to be referred to a reintegration center.

Kasai region has in the past few months been hit by clashes between police and Kamuina Nsapu militiamen in which over 400 people have reportedly been killed.

UN mission in DRC recently said it discovered 23 mass graves in that area. Two UN workers were also kidnapped last month and killed with four Congolese men they were traveling with.

Anadolu Agency