More Than 70 Students Have Been Abducted From a School In Northwest Cameroon
Officials have blamed separatist militias in the country's English-speaking regions for the kidnapping.
Several students were kidnapped from the Presbyterian Secondary School, near the northwestern capital of Bamenda either late Sunday or early morning on Monday, according to Cameroonian officials.
Seventy-eight students are reported to have been taken from the school, allegedly by separatists militiamen. The school's principal and two other employees have also been reported missing. According to government officials, no one was killed during the kidnapping which occurred the village of Nkwen.
A video, believed to have been recorded by one of the kidnappers, shows several young boys, looking obviously shaken, reciting the words "I was taken from school last night by the Amba boys, I don't know where I am" at the request of the kidnapper. The boys who attend the boarding school are all between the ages of 10 and 14.
Officials have blamed separatist forces, who are pushing for the independence of the country's Anglophone regions for the kidnapping, though no group has admitted to carrying out the abduction as of yet. Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon says he spoke with the abductors. "They don't want any ransom. All they want is for us to close the schools," he said. "We have promised to close down the schools," he told BBC.
The ongoing crisis has left several hundreds dead, and caused tens of thousands to flee the two English-speaking regions. Students have often been targeted in the upheaval, with many separatists demanding that parents ban children from going to school in protest, writes the New York Times.
Five students were taken for Atiela Bilingual High School on October 19, and their whereabouts still remain unknown.
Longstanding president Paul Biya won reelection last month. His win was partly credited to low voter turnout in the country's Anglophone regions, caused by the ongoing crisis. Biya is set to be sworn in tomorrow.