Thursday, 15 November, 2018

78 students kidnapped from Presbyterian school: Cameroon governor

80 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon 81 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon
Ellis Copeland | 07 November, 2018, 11:14

At least 78 students and their headteacher have been kidnapped by armed men from their school in Cameroon. Ambazonia is the name of the state that separatists are seeking to establish.

A video of the hostages released on Monday showed one of the captives saying they had been seized by "Amba Boys" - the widely-used term to describe the separatist rebels.

The men in the video said they would only release the students once the goal of creating a new state is achieved.

While such mass kidnappings were previously unknown in Cameroon, the abduction came after two major such incidents in neighbouring Nigeria, where the Islamist group Boko Haram snatched more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok in April 2014.

One of the workers, 27-year old Christopher Ongene said armed men attacked them Saturday evening.

Amnesty International expressed solidarity with the students' families and demanded "that the Cameroon authorities do everything in their power to ensure all the pupils and school staff are freed unharmed". Government forces have fought separatists in Cameroon's North West and South West regions.

The video could not be independently verified, but parents have said on social media that they recognise their children in the video.

One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again.

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A miltary source said the principal of the school had also been kidnapped.

The separatists, who are protesting against President Paul Biya's French-speaking government, have imposed strict curfews, shuttered schools, and killed government soldiers and policemen in guerilla raids.

An army search operation is under way in Cameroon to rescue dozens of people kidnapped from a boarding school. Biya, who has been in office since 1982, is set to be inaugurated tomorrow.

At the start of the school year in September, several secondary schools were attacked, a headmaster was killed and a teacher was badly mutilated.

Around a fifth of Cameroon's 22m people are English-speaking - a minority whose presence dates back to the colonial period.

Most of the students kidnapped, were students of Form Five preparing for the GCE O' Level and have appeared in a video posted online by pro separatist activists.

According to United Nations figures, 246,000 people in the Southwest Region have fled their homes, and 25,000 have sought shelter in neighbouring Nigeria, many of them living hand-to-mouth in the forests.

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

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