Armed separatists kidnap 79 pupils in Cameroon

78 students kidnapped from Presbyterian school: Cameroon governor

The students kidnapped Monday were enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon's Northwest Region - one of two regions hit by attacks by anglophone militants that have met with a brutal crackdown by the authorities. "You will be going to school now here", say the men, who identified themselves as Amba boys. They also burned down at least 100 schools and removed students and teachers from others they took over, the AP said.

"We urge an immediate halt to the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and burning of houses by Cameroonian government forces and to attacks perpetrated by. anglophone separatists", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Several hours after the kidnapping took place, a video was released on social media which showed the kidnappers forcing the abducted children to call out their names and the names of their parents. But it reported that some parents said on social media that they recognized their children in the video.

Fighting between the military and separatists increased after the Government clamped down on peaceful demonstrations by English-speaking teachers and lawyers protesting against what they said were their marginalisation by Cameroon's French-speaking majority.

The children say they were kidnapped late on Sunday (local time) by the armed men and they don't know where they are being held.

The 85-year-old was credited with 71.3% of the vote, although the ballot was marred by allegations of widespread fraud, low voter turnout and violence.

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Around a fifth of Cameroon's 22 million people are English-speaking - a minority whose presence dates back to the colonial period. "Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One", the BBC explains. Militias have been trying to get the regions to secede from Cameroon.

A teacher at the school described what she saw as she entered the principal's office after students had been taken from different dormitories.

In an October presidential election, opposition candidate Maurice Kamto declared victory against Biya, who has ruled since 1982, but Biya's ruling party dismissed claims of defeat and accused Kamto of breaking the law.

In 2016, demands for greater autonomy grew but have been rebuffed by Biya.

More than 300,000 other have fled the violence, some crossing into neighbouring Nigeria.

Most of the students kidnapped, were students of Form Five preparing for the GCE O' Level and have appeared in a video posted online by pro separatist activists.

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