At least nine children burned to death after a room they were sleeping in caught fire near the centre of Dakar, Senegal, according to the Senegalese Press Agency (ASP).
About 40 children, who are believed to be students at a Koranic school, were sleeping in a cramped room when the fire broke out around midnight.
The children are said to be beggars. Non-governmental organisations have often decried the abuse of children by the teachers at madrassas who used the children to beg in city streets, reports ASP.
Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall was quoted as saying the fire raised questions about urban planning in the capital due to the increase in slums.
One child sustained serious burns while those who died were burnt beyond recognition.
The cause of the fire was not clear.