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79 Students Along with Principal, Teacher Abducted in Restive Anglophone Cameroon

The kidnapping — the gravest incident so far in 13 months of unrest — coincides with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country.

AFP

Updated:November 5, 2018, 7:09 PM IST
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79 Students Along with Principal, Teacher Abducted in Restive Anglophone Cameroon
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Yaoundé, Cameroon: Seventy-nine school students were kidnapped on Monday in an English-speaking region of Cameroon where separatists are fighting an armed campaign for independence, a government source said.

The students were abducted along with their principal, a teacher and a driver, the official said, as a source at the school confirmed the kidnapping of the pupils.

They were enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon's Northwest Region — one of two regions hit by attacks by anglophone militants that have met with a brutal crackdown by the authorities.

"The search for the hostages has been launched — every man has been called in," the government source said, speaking after a crisis meeting.

The kidnapping — the gravest incident so far in 13 months of unrest — coincides with an upsurge of political tensions in the majority French-speaking country.

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.

Biya was credited with 71.3 percent of the vote, although the ballot was marred by allegations of widespread fraud, low voter turnout and violence.

He takes his oath of office on Tuesday.

Around a fifth of Cameroon's 22 million people are English-speaking — a minority whose presence dates back to the colonial period.

Cameroon, once a German colony, was divided between Britain and France after World War I.

The French colony gained independence in 1960, becoming Cameroon. The following year, the British-ruled Southern Cameroons was amalgamated into it, giving rise to the Northwest and Southwest regions.

But resentment at perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority, especially in education and the judiciary, began to build.

In 2016, demands for greater autonomy grew but met with a rebuff by Biya.

As radicals took ascendancy, the anglophone movement declared the creation of the "Republic of Ambazonia" in the Northwest and neighbouring Southwest Region on October 1, 2017.

No country has recognised the self-declared state.

The separatists have gunned down troops and police, boycotted and torched schools and attacked other perceived symbols of the Cameroonian state.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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