Local reports from the Nkwen village near the city of Bamenda in northwest Cameroon say 78 students from a Presbyterian school have been kidnapped by armed gunmen. The kidnapping took place in an English-speaking region of the nation where separatists have been fighting to form an independent nation.
According to Independent, video released on social media showed nine children allegedly among the group of kidnapped children being forced to say their names and their parents’ names, many also saying “I was taken from school last night by the Amba boys, and I don’t know where I am.”
Recent military crackdowns on local protests have resulted in hundreds of deaths, with protestors and separatists saying they are oppressed by President Paul Biya and his French-speaking government. The separatists have retaliated by imposing curfews and even closing down schools, but kidnapping would mark an escalation.
“We shall only release you after the struggle. You will be going to school now here,” the armed men can be heard saying in the video. The video’s veracity could not be independently confirmed, but the AP reports that a number of parents in the region posted that they recognized their children in the video.