Kidnapped Cameroon students released

78 students kidnapped from Presbyterian school: Cameroon governor

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.

The students were enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, one of two areas where surging anglophone separatist militancy has been met with a brutal crackdown by authorities.

A video uploaded to social media showed the kidnapped children and the alleged kidnappers, calling themselves "Amba boys" in reference to the breakaway Ambazonia state that the separatists have been trying to create.

The men who identify themselves as the kidnappers say they will only release the children when they achieve what they want.

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 school is in an English-speaking region, and no one has immediately claimed responsibility.

Rev. Forba said security officers visited the school on Tuesday and took away the vice principal and another member of staff for interrogation.

A source close to the school said the abducted students "are mainly boys".

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

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

Governor Deben Tchoffo spoke publicly about the kidnappings, stating: "It is rather unfortunate that this is happening, that 79 of our children and three of their staff can be picked up by terrorists".

At the end of a video believed to show some of the kidnapped students, the kidnapper turns the camera on himself.

Fighting between the military and separatists increased after the Government clamped down on peaceful demonstrations by English-speaking teachers and lawyers protesting what they said was their marginalisation by Cameroon's French-speaking majority. They have attacked civilians who do not support their cause, including teachers who were killed for disobeying orders to keep schools closed.

No fewer than 79 students were reportedly abducted on Monday morning with their teacher, the principal and a driver.

The children were taken from a Presbyterian school near the city of Bamenda, which is at the center of an Anglophone separatist movement.

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