KABUL: The United Nations on  Wednesday condemned all sides in Afghanistan’s conflict for using child  soldiers, noting that while government forces have curbed the practice,  insurgent groups continue to train large numbers of fighters under the  age of 18. The Afghan government has made progress on the issue, said  Leila Zerrougui, the UN representative for children and armed conflict.  But she said the Afghan Local Police — government-allied groups that  often operate as independent militias and are widely seen as  unprofessional and corrupt — are major perpetrators. The Taliban, who  have been battling the government for over 15 years, mainly recruit  children in provinces bordering Pakistan and other areas where the  fighting is fiercest, she said. Noting that the majority of  Afghanistan’s population is younger than 18, Zerrougui said child  soldiers are “deprived of the minimum of their basic rights.” “They are  not going to school, they are deprived of access to health. They are  targeted by armed groups and they are prevented from having hope for the  future.”