Kidnapped school children released by gunmen in Cameroon


The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon Rev. Samuel Fonki on Tuesday November 6 condemned the kidnap of the students and said students cannot go to school under uncertain security conditions.

An image taken from video posted online by Cameroonian separatists shows members of the Red Dragons group, one of several insurgent groups staging attacks in the name of establishing an independent, English-speaking state of "Ambazonia" in north and southwest Cameroon.

In the video, the kidnappers force about six of the children to give their names and the names of their parents. "You will be going to school now here", say the men who identified themselves as Amba boys.

Separatist groups had vowed on social media to make the English speaking regions of Cameroon ungovernable.

Conflict began in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon in 2016 when teachers and lawyers complained of discrimination from the French-speaking majority in education and the justice system.

Reports from the North West region say parents have gathered at the gate of the Presbyterian Secondary School to collect their children after hearing the news.

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

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Hundreds have been killed in the past year. 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.

"It is unfortunate we have to close the school and send home 700 children", he said.

However the separatists responded on social media claiming that this was a government organised scheme to deter attention.

It comes after elections on October 7 that saw President Paul Biya, 85, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 35 years, secure a seventh term in office.

The children were taken from a Presbyterian school near the city of Bamenda, which is at the center of an Anglophone separatist movement. One other girl managed to escape from the kidnappers. 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.

Last week, separatist militants attacked workers on a state-run rubber plantation in southwestern Cameroon, allegedly chopping off their fingers because the men defied an order to stay away from the farms.