Myanmar child soldiers
A 15-year-old rebel soldier of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) inserts bullets into the clip of his rifle near a military base in Kokang regionReuters

Dozens of child soldiers have been freed from the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF), the military announced. According to the official statement, 46 soldiers, who were wrongly recruited, were released from service.

The child soldiers were ceremonially handed over to their respective families in the presence of UN observers on 12 March. The military said including the latest release, as many as 744 underage soldiers have been released from the MAF, known as Tatmadaw.

"The Tatmadaw is committed to ridding its ranks of underage soldiers," Major General Tauk Tun said at the ceremony, according to the daily Global New Light of Myanmar. Not just the Myanmar army, but also several paramilitary groups and the junta are accused of using child soldiers. The youngsters are also thought to have been employed in lethal work such as mine detection.

Myanmar, which has been under junta or quasi-military rule for several decades, signed an agreement with the UN in 2012 agreeing to release all the child soldiers. But, there has been no independent verification regarding the exact numbers of underage troops who are presently in service. The south-east Asian nation, formerly Burma, is in a democratic transition and a newly elected government, led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is expected to take over in the coming weeks.