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The mass of protesters converging for Trump's inauguration are not his only headache.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed alarm at reports that children may constitute a large part of the force recruited and used by the armed al-Shabab group in Somalia.

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In a report to the Security Council circulated this week, the UN chief said al-Shabab used children in combat, with nine-year-olds reportedly taught to use weapons and sent to frontlines. Children were also used to transport explosives, work as spies, carry ammunition or perform domestic chores, Guterres said.

It was estimated more than half of al-Shabab's force were children,and at least 60 percent of the group's "elements" captured in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region in March 2016 were youngsters.

Some of those children said they were approached with the promise of education and jobs, he said.

Inside Story - Judging the threat of al-Shabab in Africa
Somalia has been trying to rebuild after recently establishing its first functioning central government since 1991.