GENEVA (AP) – A U.N. panel has expressed concern about the growing number of street children in Congo accused of witchcraft and subject to violence and torture as a result.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child says children suspected of witchcraft are kept as prisoners in religious buildings where they are mistreated or even killed under the pretext of exorcism.

The Geneva-based panel said in a report published Friday that sexual exploitation and abuse is rife in Congo’s cities.

It says girls are sometimes forced into prostitution by their own parents at a very young age.

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AP-ES-01-30-09 1346EST

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