Cameroon kidnap: Bamenda students freed

By Mutala Yakubu
The pupils were taken from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda
The pupils were taken from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda

Students kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon's North-West region have been freed, officials say.



The 78 students and three others were seized early on Sunday in the region's capital, Bamenda.

A driver was also released, but the school's principal and a teacher are still being held.

The government and separatists in the English-speaking region have been accusing each other of being behind the kidnapping.
A video purportedly showing some of the kidnapped students from Bamenda's Presbyterian Secondary School has been shared online, sparking outrage.

An Anglophone separatist movement took up arms last year to demand independence for the North-West and South-West regions - the two English-speaking regions in a country where French is the most widely spoken official language.

It is unclear who kidnapped the students and why they did so, but authorities say the freed students are being questioned before being reunited with their parents.
How were the children freed?

According to the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, the students were abandoned in one of their buildings in the town of Bafut, about 24km (15 miles) from Bamenda.

"The release was done peacefully... by unidentified gunmen. They [students] were brought into the church premises," Rev Fonki Samuel, the Presbyterian moderator of the Bamenda school, told the BBC's Newsday programme about the release.

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

"So [on] the evening of yesterday [Tuesday], surprisingly and by God's grace, the children were brought back to us."
Rev Samuel told the BBC that 78 students, not 79 as earlier reported, had been released.

The Presbyterian church also revealed that Sunday's kidnapping was the second such case at the same school in less than a week.

In the earlier 31 October incident, 11 boys were taken and then released. It is unclear who the kidnappers were.

The army had been deployed to try and find the children.

Source: bbc