Child hostages released by kidnappers in Cameroon


All 78 children and a driver kidnapped in west Cameroon were released on Wednesday, but a principal and one teacher are still being held by the armed men that took them, a priest conducting negotiations said.

On Sunday, at least 79 students and 3 teachers were kidnapped from a Presbyterian school in Cameroon.

While such mass kidnappings were previously unknown in Cameroon, the abduction came after two major such incidents in neighbouring Nigeria, where the Islamist group Boko Haram snatched more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok in April 2014.

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Samuel Fonki, a reverend for the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, told Reuters that he is moderating for the release of the children.

A video of some of the children, all boys, believed to have been filmed by one of the kidnappers, is being shared on social media.

Forba pleaded with the kidnappers to free the remaining captives.

About 79 children were taken from their dormitories by armed men on Sunday night.

In the video, abductors can be seen forcing young male students to identify themselves, their parents and say they have been kidnapped by Amba Boys and they don't know where they are.

"It is unfortunate we have to close the school and send home 700 children", he told the AP.

It said that the separatists had set fire to at least 100 schools and taken them over as training grounds.

"We shall only release you after the struggle".

"A widely followed boycott of schools was in place since late 2016, but since early 2017, school administrators and teachers perceived as not enforcing the boycott have faced increasing attacks by individuals and groups of individuals, acting on their own or in support of self-proclaimed armed separatist groups".

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

Hundreds of people have been killed in the country as the separatist movement has taken hold, and the government has put down any efforts to secede.

The separatists in Cameroon have been protesting against the French-speaking government led by president Paul Biya and demanding a separate state.

"We urge an immediate halt to the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and burning of houses by Cameroonian government forces and to attacks perpetrated by both Anglophone separatists against security forces and civilians", the department said in a statement from spokesperson Heather Nauert.