HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ The sale of children for prostitution abroad is rising in southern Vietnam despite a government crackdown on the traders.

Today's Ho Chi Minh City Police newspaper quoted a report by the World Human Rights Organization and UNICEF as saying one-third of the 55,000 prostitutes in neighboring Cambodia are under 18 and most are Vietnamese.

The level terrain at the Vietnam-Cambodia border makes it ideal for sneaking children across, Border Guard Lt. Col. Nguyen Thanh Hoa told the newspaper.

Hoa said the southern border guard forces have uncovered 121 child-trade cases, arresting 186 traders and freeing 281 victims _ including 31 under age 16 _ between September 1995 and last month.

Some traders admitted selling women and children for $250 to $300 each, he said.

Traders often obtain children by going to poor rural families and offering to find jobs for the youngsters, Hoa said.