Cameroon children kidnapped by separatists near Bamenda released, Presbyterian church official says

Howard TerryNov 08, 2018

Schoolchildren who were kidnapped by armed men were released and helped into a truck by police in Bamenda, Cameroon, on Wednesday.

On Sunday, at least 79 students and 3 teachers were kidnapped from a Presbyterian school in Cameroon. The children, their principal and a driver were taken into the bush outside town, military and government sources said, and the army had started searching the area.

This is a developing story; check back for updates and get the PIX11 News app to stay informed all day.

In the video, men who identified themselves as the kidnappers forced several boys to state their names and the names of their parents.

"We express solidarity with the families of these children and demand that the Cameroon authorities do everything in their power to ensure all the pupils and school staff are freed unharmed".

The students, kidnapped Sunday night from a Presbyterian school in the northwestern city of Bamenda, were released at another school 12 miles away, The Guardian reports, noting that it's also unclear how they were transported given a curfew that was in effect at night.

A church official in Cameroon says that the 79 students kidnapped by unidentified gunmen have been released, but two of the three staff members abducted are still being held.

A six-minute video seen by AFP on Monday, but which could not be confirmed independently, showed 11 boys apparently aged about 15 giving their identity and name of the school in English, and adding that they were abducted by the "Amba Boys" - a name for anglophone separatists.

He said, "armed groups, gangsters and thieves" could be taking advantage of the insecurity in the region to seize people, and blame it on the government and separatists.

"They say I have to close the school".

The separatist movement gathered pace in 2017 after a government crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.

The government was accused of relying heavily on people trained in the French legal and educational tradition to work in key posts and generally marginalising Cameroon's English-speaking minority, who make up about 20% of the population.

This past year has marked a distressing period for Cameroon's Anglophone regions, as hundreds have lost their lives as a result of the violence that has cropped up between armed separatists and the military.

"We can no longer continue", he said.

The turmoil in Cameroon comes after President Paul Biya won a seventh term last month in an election the USA said was marked by irregularities.

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