Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Almost 80 children kidnapped in Cameroon’s English-speaking separatist region

Almost 80 children kidnapped in Cameroon’s English-speaking separatist region

A video purportedly showing some of the kidnapped students from Bamenda's Presbyterian Secondary School has been shared online, sparking outrage.

One student, who managed to avoid capture by hiding under a bed, told the BBC that events unfolded quickly as the kidnappers entered the school.

On social media, a video purporting to show some of the students was released by a group of separatists called "Amba boys", after Ambazonia, the name they have given the independent, Anglophone state they hope to establish, according to The Associated Press.

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.

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The unit swooped on the pupils at the Presbyterian school in Nkwen village in Cameroon, a local governor said.

Armed assailants have kidnapped about 80 children from a school in western Cameroon during the night, government and military sources have said.

The source said: "In total 81 people were kidnapped including the principal".

Hundreds have been killed in Cameroon's English-speaking regions in the past year, where violence between armed separatists and the military have increased since a government crackdown against protesters in the northwest and southwest regions who claim that as the English-speaking minority they are marginalised by the French-speaking government.

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Several hours after the kidnapping took place, a video was released on social media which showed the kidnappers forcing the abducted children to call out their names and the names of their parents.

One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again. President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982.

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.

At the start of the school year in September, several secondary schools were attacked, a headmaster was killed and a teacher was badly mutilated.

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Ongene said they were accused of defying instructions from the separatists not to go to work on the farms to protest President Biya's reelection and his expected inauguration on November 6. Many people have fled Bamenda and other cities and have moved to French-speaking regions. 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.

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