World Media

78 students kidnapped by gunmen from Christian school

78 students kidnapped by gunmen from Christian school

One of the original gripes was that French-speaking teachers were being deployed to English-speaking schools in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

Cameroon, an English-speaking central African country, has been marred by a separatist rebellion in recent years, the BBC reports. The separatists also have torched at least a hundred schools and driven out students and teachers from buildings taken over as training grounds.

This is a developing story; check back for updates and get the PIX11 News app to stay informed all day. "They were brought into the church premises", Rev Fonki Samuel, Presbyterian Church Moderator in Cameroon, told the BBC Focus on Africa programme.

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.

"We express solidarity with the families of these children and demand that the Cameroon authorities do everything in their power to ensure all the pupils and school staff are freed unharmed".

The men who identify themselves on the video as the kidnappers say they will only release the children when they achieve what they want.

The group was abducted in Bamenda, a commercial hub of Cameroon's restive English-speaking region, on Monday.

At least 78 students and three others, including the principal, were seized early on Monday morning in Bamenda, the capital of the North-West region, a government official has told the BBC.

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

The students were dropped off at another Presbyterian school in the town of Bafut, 12 miles from Bamenda where their school is based.

Rev. Forba said security officers visited the school on Tuesday and took away the vice principal and another member of staff for interrogation.

Separatists are fighting an armed campaign in the area as they seek to set up an independent state called Ambazonia.

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

Cameroon has a majority of French speakers, with a significant minority of English speakers in the country's western portion.

"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.