Armed separatists kidnap 78 children and headteacher in Cameroon

07 November, 2018, 11:12 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • 80 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon

Some parents have said on the social media that they recognised their children in the video, but separatist groups who had called for school boycott in the regions and promised severe consequences for defiance, have dissociated themselves from the kidnappers.

Though figures are still not exact for the moment, a source at the North West Governor's office said they remain cautious for the moment to give out figures not to create panic in some schools.

The kidnapping - the worst incident in 13 months of unrest - coincides with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country.

More than 80 people, mostly students, were kidnapped from a school in the city of Bamenda in western Cameroon by gunmen on Sunday, government and military sources said.

The Associated Press reported a video was posted on social media claiming to show some of the kidnapped children.

Some 107 girls have since been released or found, but the Islamist group abducted scores more schoolgirls from neighbouring Yobe state in February this year. "Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One", the BBC explains.

Biya was credited with 71.3 percent of the vote, although the ballot was marred by allegations of widespread fraud, low voter turnout and violence. Militias have been trying to get the regions to secede from Cameroon.

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In 2016, anger at perceived discrimination in education, the judiciary and the economy fanned demands for autonomy in the anglophone regions.

"We urge an immediate halt to the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and burning of houses by Cameroonian government forces and to attacks perpetrated by. anglophone separatists", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

But Biya refused any concessions and a year later, radicals declared an independent state - the "Republic of Ambazonia" - taking up arms soon after. Armed separatists have even killed teachers who defied instructions to keep schools closed.

The authorities have responded with a massive crackdown by police and troops.

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. Last week, an American missionary was fatally shot in the head while in his auto, apparently caught in crossfire between government soldiers and armed separatists in Bamenda.

Estimates of displaced people in the Northwest Region are not available.

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