The 79 students kidnapped last Monday at a Presbyterian high school in Nkwen, a town in the northwest region of Cameroon, have been released, Efe sources confirmed on Wednesday. However, the director of the educational center and at least one teacher continue to be kidnapped, according to local media.
All students are between ten and fourteen years of age, and it is unknown until now under what conditions their release was obtained.
This is the first time a mass kidnapping has occurred in Cameroon, an event reminiscent of the one committed in neighboring Nigeria in 2014, when the jihadist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, sparking outrage at the level global.
In a video of about 5 minutes that Efe had access to, eleven of the children are forced to identify themselves, and indicate that they have been kidnapped by the ‘Amba boys’, the Anglophone separatists who are calling for the creation of the independent State of Ambazonia.
Leaders of these secessionist groups which operate in the Anglophone regions of the Northwest and Southwest of the country denied hours later in a statement to be responsible.
The so-called Anglophone crisis , which began in 2016 with peaceful protests over a more equal use of English in courts and educational centers, degenerated into armed groups at the end of 2017 after a harsh crackdown by the government.
Since the escalation of the conflict, hundreds of people have died and at least 7,000 students have been displaced as a result of violent attacks and clashes between the Armed Forces and the separatist militias. The release of these students is made public a day after President Paul Biya, 85, who has been in office for 36 years, will be sworn in for a seventh term in the Yaoundé Parliament.