Cameroon separatists seize 78 pupils in campaign for Ambazonia


The governor of North West Region said the kidnappers also seized the school's leader.

Violent separatists have since taken up arms to destabilize the Anglophone regions to win independence for the areas they want to declare a separate state, which they call Ambazonia. While the video could not be independently verified, parents reacted on social media saying they recognized their children in the video.

Hundreds have been killed in the past year.

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Most of Cameroon is French-speaking, while the country's western portion is populated by English speakers. Tensions increased after Biya was easily reelected last month for a seventh term in office.

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.

About 20 percent of Cameroon's 22 million people are English speaking.

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In a video posted to social media appearing to show the kidnapped group, the hostage-takers call themselves "Amba boys" and claim responsibility for the abductions.

There has been no official statement from the school authorities and as reporters spoke to the parents, a lot of them believed a number of children who had not been kidnapped were being held by the authorities, something that only piles up their frustration.

"We shall only release you after the struggle. You will be going to school now here", a man in the video reportedly said. "That 79 of our children and three of their staff can be picked up by terrorists", Tchoffo said.

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Cameroon is split between majority French and minority English speaking regions - a legacy of the United Kingdom and France dividing the country between them after the First World War defeat of the original colonial power Germany. 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. They have mounted attacks against civilians who do not support their cause, including teachers who were killed for disobeying orders to keep schools closed. Between February 2017 and May 2018, for example, at least 42 schools in the regions were attacked, including 36 that were damaged by arson attacks, 11 damaged by other types of attacks, as well as two school buses burnt down and various harassments and attacks on students and teachers. Caty Weaver was the editor. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.