Monday, 14 October, 2019

Armed men in Cameroon kidnap 79 schoolchildren

80 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon 81 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon
Patty Aguilar | 07 November, 2018, 11:12

Paul Biya's inauguration on Tuesday for a seventh term as Cameroon's president is eclipsed by the search for 79 school pupils kidnapped by English-speaking separatists.

Forty-eight hours after the abduction of 79 children from a local school in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon's restive North West region, parents have been flooding the campus for any available information on their children.

A video purporting to show the kidnapped students was released on social media from a group of men who call themselves "Amba boys", a reference to the state of Ambazonia armed separatists want to establish in Cameroon's Anglophone North West and South West regions. The video reportedly shows some of the boys being forced to state their names and those of their parents.

The men who identified themselves as the kidnappers said they would only release the children when they attain their goal.

The kidnappings were the first such mass abductions seen in Cameroon and coincide with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country. You will be going to school now here, " the men said on the video.

The school's website says that the student body numbers more than 700, drawn from "all the religious and linguistic origins of Cameroon".

An American missionary also died in the northwest region around Bamenda when he was shot in the head amid fighting between separatists and soldiers. "They were taken to the bush", the source said.

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"We hope and pray they release the kids and the teachers", he added.

It comes after elections on October 7 in which 85-year-old Biya, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 35 years, was credited with 71.3 percent of the vote. But Sunday's involved the largest number of people kidnapped at once, the AP reported.

A teacher at the school described what she saw as she entered the principal's office after students had been taken from different dormitories.

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. Neither the government nor the separatist groups provided evidence to substantiate their accusations.

In several western Cameroonian regions, the separatists have imposed curfews and shut down schools as hundreds of residents have fled the crisis-hit region to more peaceful areas.

The CDC runs banana, palm oil, and rubber plantations in Cameroon's troubled southwest and northwest regions.

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