An unidentified South Sudan armed group has abducted at least 89 boys, some as young as 13, from their homes in the north of the country, UNICEF said Saturday.
"Eighty-nine children were abducted ...," a statement said, adding that "the actual number could be much higher."
The UN children's agency said the mass abduction happened at the start of the week in the town of Wau Shilluk.
Witnesses said that unidentified armed soldiers surrounded the community and went house-to-house taking away by force any boys thought to be over 12 years old.
"The recruitment and use of children by armed forces destroys families and communities," said Jonathan Veitch, the head of UNICEF in South Sudan.
"Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose their families and their chance to go to school."
UNICEF estimates there are at least 12,000 children used by both sides in South Sudan's ongoing civil war.