78 students kidnapped from school in Cameroon

Seventy-nine pupils were kidnapped in Cameroon

Seventy-nine pupils were kidnapped in Cameroon

Authorities in Cameroon say search operations have been launched to ensure that some 79 children abducted from a boarding school in the restive Northwest region are found and brought back to class.

At least 81 people, mostly children, were kidnapped from a school in Cameroon's Bamenda on Monday, Reuters reported quoting government and military officials. Ambazonia is the name of the state that separatists are seeking to establish.

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

Men who identified themselves as the kidnappers told the children of the conditions for their release.

The area is now embroiled in an ugly dispute, with separatists fighting for a breakaway state.

Biya has promised to pursue policies of decentralisation to address "frustrations and aspirations" in English-speaking regions.

They were kidnapped with three school staff members, but Tchiroma said their fate was not yet clear. "You will be going to school now here", a man in the video reportedly said.

It comes after elections on October 7 that saw President Paul Biya, 85, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 35 years, secure a seventh term in office. The video could not be independently verified, but parents said on social media they recognised their children in the recording.

One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again. The separatists claim that they have been marginalised in Biya's regime.

This past year has marked a distressing period for Cameroon's Anglophone regions, as hundreds have lost their lives as a result of the violence that has cropped up between armed separatists and the military.

The priest did not say precisely when the children were freed, or whether any deal had been made with the kidnappers. The Anglophone regions have frequently erupted into violence since late 2016, when a number of English-speaking lawyers protested that a newly passed law wasn't translated from French.

Several separatist groups, who denied involvement in the kidnapping, alleged government forces took the students. They have mounted attacks against civilians who do not support their cause, including teachers who were killed for disobeying orders to keep schools closed. Witnesses described being beaten, slapped and lectured on the living conditions at the school, before the attackers left with the principal, a teacher, a driver and the students.

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