Authorities announce release of 79 abducted students in English-speaking Cameroon

Authorities announce release of 79 abducted students in English-speaking Cameroon
During a demonstration against the discrimination of English-speaking Cameroonians, in Bamenda, September 22, 2017.
During a demonstration against the discrimination of English-speaking Cameroonians, in Bamenda, September 22, 2017. STRINGER / AFP

Seventy-nine children abducted Monday in a Protestant school in Bamenda, in the troubled separatist region of the northwestern region of Cameroon, were released, AFP Foreign Minister Issa Bakary Tchiroma told AFP on Wednesday (November 7th). communication. "All 79 students have been released"said Mr. Tchiroma, who did not specify, at first, the conditions under which this release was obtained.

These children from Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda were abducted with three members of the school's management. "I do not know yet about the three supervisors"said the minister of communication. It was the first time such mass kidnapping occurred in Cameroon.

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The release of students was announced the day after President Paul Biya, 85, had been sworn in Yaoundé for thirty-six years, re-elected on 7 October for a seventh consecutive term. In a six-minute video obtained by AFP, eleven boys aged fifteen declined one by one, in English, their identity and indicated that they had been abducted by "Amba boys", the English-speaking separatists.

Attacks against schools

In the two English-speaking regions of the North-West and South-West, an unprecedented socio-political crisis took place at the end of 2016. At the end of 2017, it turned into an armed conflict. Clashes between the army and separatists, grouped in scattered groups in the equatorial forest, have occurred there almost every day for several months.

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The separatists have declared a boycott of schools, believing that the French school system marginalizes students from the country's English-speaking minority. Attacks by armed separatists against schools have been widespread since the beginning of the conflict. In mid-October, six students were kidnapped in a high school attack, also in Bamenda, according to concordant sources. The authorities had denied. On the first day of school, in early September, a school director was murdered, a teacher mutilated and several schools attacked.

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