Cameroon: 79 Students Kidnapped by Gunmen Released

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All 79 children and a driver kidnapped in west Cameroon have now been freed, but a principal and one teacher are still being held by the armed men that took them, a priest conducting negotiations has said.

A video allegedly of the abductees has been released on the social media by men who call themselves the Amba Boys, an armed group that has been fighting for the secession of the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest, and the creation of a new state called Ambazonia. Cameroon is a country still deeply divided by colonial influences of English and French- some of the English minority support the creation of a separate English state in the West called Ambazonia, and in the past year militias have formed in pursuit of that goal.

In the video, the kidnappers forced several of the young male students to give their names and the names of their parents.

Meanwhile government has accused separatists who are now fighting an armed campaign for independence in the English speaking side of the country where the kidnappings occurred.

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Militias, who have been demanding the independence of the two English-speaking regions, have called for a school boycott.

The crisis started as an industrial strike by lawyers and teachers in 2016, but snowballed into an internal armed conflict since a year ago when separatists joined and symbolically declared the independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again. "You will be going to school now here", a man in the video reportedly said.

"It is rather unfortunate that this is happening, that 79 of our children and three of their staff can be picked up by terrorists", Tchoffo said. The video could not be independently verified, but parents have said on social media that they recognize their children in the video.

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The Anglophone separatists maintain they are being marginalised and dominated by the Francophone majority.

There have been other kidnappings from schools in the region, but this is the largest number kidnapped at once. They have attacked civilians who do not support their cause, including teachers who were killed for disobeying orders to keep schools closed. One of the original gripes was that French-speaking teachers were being deployed to English-speaking schools in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

Several separatist groups, who denied involvement in the kidnapping, alleged government forces took the students.

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