Cameroon kidnap: Army searches for 79 pupils seized in Bamenda
Cameroon kidnap: Army searches for 79 pupils seized in Bamenda
81 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon
07 November, 2018, 11:15
Seventy-nine students were kidnapped on Monday in an English-speaking region of Cameroon where separatists are fighting an armed campaign for independence, a government source said. Between February 2017 and May 2018, for example, at least 42 schools in the regions were attacked, including 36 that were damaged by arson attacks, 11 damaged by other types of attacks, as well as two school buses burnt down and various harassments and attacks on students and teachers.
Cameroon, an English-speaking central African country, has been marred by a separatist rebellion in recent years, the BBC reports.
A teacher at the school described what she saw as she entered the principal's office after students had been taken from different dormitories.
But English-speaking separatists are accusing the government of staging the kidnapping, as an attempt to discredit their movement.
"All 79 students have been released", said Issa Bakary Tchiroma, without giving details of the circumstances under which they were set free. The children say they were kidnapped late Sunday by the armed men and they don't know where they are being held.
But no single group has said it carried out the kidnapping of the students and the principal at Bamenda's Presbyterian Secondary School, which has pupils aged between 10 and 14.
Meanwhile government has accused separatists who are now fighting an armed campaign for independence in the English speaking side of the country where the kidnappings occurred.
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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.
Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, said he had been mediating with the kidnappers for the children's release. Biya will be inaugurated Tuesday, and many opposition supporters have said they will continue demonstrations until he leaves power.
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"We hope and pray they release the kids and the teachers", he added.
How did the Anglophone crisis begin?
About 20 percent of Cameroon's 22 million people are English speaking.
The conflict between the insurgents and government security forces intensified a year ago after a government crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Most of Cameroon is French-speaking, while the country's western portion is populated by English speakers.
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