Cameroon children freed after kidnapping

Hannah Rogers
November 8, 2018

Armed separatists kidnapped at least 79 students and three staff members from a Presbyterian school in a troubled English-speaking region of Cameroon, the governor said Monday. They have attacked civilians who oppose their cause, including teachers who were killed for disobeying orders to keep schools closed.

The kidnappings were the first such mass abductions seen in Cameroon and coincide with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country.

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"They look exhausted and psychologically tortured", Fonki Samuel Forba, moderator of Cameroon's Presbyterian Church, told The Associated Press.

A video said to have been released by the kidnappers shows several young boy being forced to state their name to camera.

Forba pleaded with the kidnappers to free the remaining captives. The boys also said they were kidnapped by armed men and didn't know where they were being held.

There has been no official statement from the school authorities and as reporters spoke to the parents, a lot of them believed a number of children who had not been kidnapped were being held by the authorities, something that only piles up their frustration. One other girl managed to escape from the kidnappers.

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The students were dropped off at another Presbyterian school in the town of Bafut, 12 miles from Bamenda where their school is based. Men calling themselves Amba Boys reportedly posted the video.

The Statement was released on November 6 as the USA condemned the kidnappings of 79 students in Bamenda on Sunday calling for their immediate release.

It said that the separatists had set fire to at least 100 schools and taken them over as training grounds.

He said, "armed groups, gangsters and thieves" could be taking advantage of the insecurity in the region to seize people, and blame it on the government and separatists.

The conflict between the insurgents and government security forces intensified a year ago after a government crackdown on peaceful protesters.

In an inauguration speech following last month's election to extend his 36-year rule, President Paul Biya told the separatists to lay down their arms or face the full force of the law, offering no concessions to them.

About 20 percent of Cameroon's 22 million people are English speaking. Biya will be inaugurated Tuesday, and many opposition supporters have said they will continue demonstrations until he leaves power.

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