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All 78 child hostages released in Cameroon, two teachers held

08 November 2018
All 78 child hostages released in Cameroon, two teachers held

The 79 students kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from a school in Cameroon have been released, but two of the three staff members abducted with them are still being held, a church official said Wednesday.

There have been kidnappings at other schools, but the group taken yesterday was the largest number abducted at one time in Cameroon's Anglophone regions.

The government has blamed the abductions on separatists, who in turn say the government is responsible.

Students kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon's restive North-West region have been reunited with their parents amid joyful scenes.

This is a developing story; check back for updates and get the PIX11 News app to stay informed all day. "They look exhausted and psychologically tortured", said the moderator of the country's Presbyterian Church, Fonki Samuel Forba.

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.

The children say they were kidnapped on Sunday night and do not know where they are being held.

Communications Minister Issa Bakary Tchiroma said "all 79 students" seized on Monday "have been released", without giving details of the circumstances under which they were set free.

Each boy was made to say his name, parents' names, school and year into the camera, and each said his kidnappers were "Amba boys" - separatists fighting for the secession of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

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

"The first information we got from them [kidnappers] is their call and they were telling us they meant to release the children yesterday [Tuesday] morning. but unfortunately it rained so heavily that could not happen".

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

Today, President Paul Biya will be sworn in for a seventh term in office despite mass accusations of voter fraud during the election.

Since a Government crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in 2017, the movement has gathered momentum.

The government was accused of relying heavily on people trained in the French legal and educational tradition to work in key posts and generally marginalising Cameroon's English-speaking minority, who make up about 20% of the population.

Hundreds have been killed in the past year and the separatists have vowed to destabilize the regions.

"In memory of American missionary Charles Wesco and all others who have lost their lives in the Anglophone Crisis, we urge all sides to end the violence and enter into broad-based reconciliatory dialogue without preconditions", the U.S. state department said.