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07 November 2018, 11:14 | Devin Moran
81 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon
Fresh details have emerged over the abduction of some 78 students and officials of the Nkwen Presbyterian Secondary School in northwest, Bamenda.
A video allegedly of the abductees has been released on the social media by men who call themselves the Amba Boys, an armed group that has been fighting for the secession of the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest, and the creation of a new state called Ambazonia.
In the video, men who identified themselves as the kidnappers forced several boys to give their names and those of their parents.
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.
"The search for the hostages has been launched - every man has been called in", the government source said, speaking after a crisis meeting.
Last week an American missionary was killed after he was caught in the crossfire between separatist fighters and security forces. But it reported that some parents said on social media that they recognized their children in the video.
Violence between armed separatists and the Cameroon military have increased over the past year after a government crackdown against protesters who say they are marginalized by the French-speaking government.
It comes after elections on October 7 in which 85-year-old Biya, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 35 years, was credited with 71.3 percent of the vote. "We express solidarity with the families of these children and demand that the Cameroon authorities do everything in their power to ensure all the pupils and school staff are freed unharmed". "At least three teachers were killed during the same period and two school principals kidnapped". One of the original gripes was that French-speaking teachers were being deployed to English-speaking schools in the Northwest and Southwest regions. Last week, an American missionary was fatally shot in the head while in his vehicle, apparently caught in crossfire between government soldiers and armed separatists in Bamenda.
One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again.
According to United Nations figures, 246,000 people in the Southwest Region have fled their homes, and 25,000 have sought shelter in neighbouring Nigeria, many of them living hand-to-mouth in the forests. The Anglophone regions have frequently erupted into violence since late 2016, when a number of English-speaking lawyers protested that a newly passed law wasn't translated from French.
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