Kidnapped school children released by gunmen in Cameroon

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Sky News | Two of the three staff members abducted from a school near the capital of Cameroon’s northwest region are still being held.

Dozens of school children who were taken hostage in Cameroon have been released, a church official has said.

Some 79 students were held by gunmen after being seized on Sunday near Bamenda, the capital of the English-speaking northwest region of the country.

One had escaped earlier and the other 78 were freed at some point before Wednesday.

Two of the three staff members abducted are still being held, moderator of Cameroon’s Presbyterian Church Fonki Samuel Forba added.

“Praise God 78 children and the driver have been released. The principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying,” he said.

Mr Fonki said the youngsters looked tired and appeared to have suffered during their captivity.

The pupils had been enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Nkwen village.

A video purportedly of the kidnapped children was released on social media by a group who call themselves Amba boys, a reference to the state of Ambazonia that armed separatists have been trying to establish in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest regions.

In the video, the kidnappers forced about six of the children to give their names and the names of their parents.

The government has also accused separatists of taking the children, but a separatist spokesman has denied involvement.

Mr Fonki begged the kidnappers to free the staff members still being held.

The Presbyterian boarding school with 700 students is closed because of the security situation.

The priest said another 11 school children were kidnapped by the same armed group on 31 October, then released after the school paid a ransom of 2.5 million CFA francs (£3,340).

The town of Bamenda has been the centre of pro-independence demonstrations for several years, with Cameroon’s security services deployed to the streets to keep order.

Cameroon is split between majority French and minority English speaking regions – a legacy of the UK and France dividing the country between them after the First World War defeat of the original colonial power Germany.

The attack on children came after the 2014 abduction of more than 200 girls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram in neighbouring Nigeria and was criticised by human rights groups.

Source: cameroononline.org