Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Dozens of students abducted in Cameroon by alleged separatists

80 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon Dozens of students abducted in Cameroon by alleged separatists
Pablo Mccormick | 06 November, 2018, 16:03

In the video, men who identified themselves as the kidnappers forced several boys to give their names and those of their parents. The children say they were kidnapped by the Amba boys, and they do not know where they are being held. The video could not be independently verified, but parents said on social media they recognised their children in the recording.

The students were abducted along with their principal, a teacher and a driver, the official said, as a source at the school confirmed the kidnapping of the pupils.

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.

There have been kidnappings at other schools, but the group taken Sunday was the largest number abducted at one time in Cameroon's Anglophone regions.

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The government responded with a crackdown and separatists fought back.

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.

According to Journalducameroon.com, the gunmen stormed the Presbyterian Secondary School Nkwen before rounding off the students to an unknown destination. Cameroon is a country still deeply divided by colonial influences of English and French- some of the English minority support the creation of a separate English state in the West called Ambazonia, and in the past year militias have formed in pursuit of that goal.

At the end of a video believed to show some of the kidnapped students, the kidnapper turns the camera on himself. All they want is for us to close the schools.

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The separatists have vowed to destabilise the regions as part of the strategy for creating a breakaway state.

President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, was recently re-elected for a seventh term with more than 70% of the vote.

On 19 October, five students of the Atiela Bilingual High School were taken by unidentified gunmen.

The government was accused of relying heavily on people trained in the French legal and educational tradition to work in key posts and generally marginalising Cameroon's English-speaking minority, who make up about 20% of the population.

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