News & Conflicts

70+ Students Have Been Abducted From a School In Northwest Cameroon

Early Monday morning near Bamenda, the capital of the North-West region several students were kidnapped from the Presbyterian Secondary School. At least 79 students and three others, including the principal, were seized, according to government officials, no one was killed during the kidnapping which occurred in the village of Nkwen.

A massive search operation involving the Cameroonian army is now underway. Cameroon’s North-West and South-West regions have been hit by a secessionist rebellion in recent years. Regional governor Adolphe Lele L’Afrique blamed separatist militias for the kidnapping. Militias, who have been demanding the independence of the two English-speaking regions, have called for a school boycott. But no single group has said it carried out the kidnapping at Bamenda’s Presbyterian Secondary School, which has pupils aged between 10 and 14, BBC Reports.

President Paul Biya has been in office for 36 years, winning re-election last month. His win was partly credited to low voter turnout in the country’s Anglophone regions. Cameroon’s two official languages, French and English, are a remnant of a complicated colonial legacy dating to post-World War I when the League of Nations appointed France and England as joint trustees of what was then German Kamerun. Colonialists enforced their own cultures on each region, writes the New York Times.

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.

The moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, the Right Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba told the BBC that he had spoken to the kidnappers. “They don’t want any ransom. All they want is for us to close the schools. We have promised to close down the schools, we hope and pray they release the kids and the teachers,” he added.

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