Ninety students from the same school in the English-speaking area were abducted in five years and kidnapped in five days, unprecedented actions in this country where English-speaking areas have been in armed conflicts for a year.
"On Wednesday, October 31, 11 students of the institution were kidnapped," said the Presbyterian church in charge of the Presbyterian College of Nkwen in Bamenda, the regional capital of the Northwest Theater, with the southwest, a conflict between separatists and army.
This first abduction was not revealed because of ongoing negotiations with the kidnappers, according to a source close to the institution. The students have since been liberated & # 39 ;, according to the church.
A few days later, on Monday, 79 students were kidnapped again at the same school and released Wednesday.
The military operation for their release was "carried out in the early hours of the morning" by the army in Bafut, not far from Bamenda, according to a statement by Joseph Beti Assomo, Minister of Defense. "Held by the psychological unit (of the army), and subjected to thorough medical examination, the released students will be given to their families immediately". Three hostages, adults, are still being held.
The sequence of the events of the two kidnappings and the identity of the kidnappers remain unclear.
In a video AFP received on Monday night, eleven fifteen-year-old boys, one by one, in English, lost their identity and said they were being kidnapped by "Amba boys," English-speaking separatists.
Two identical sources said Tuesday that these young boys were students of the Presbyterian Secondary School (PSS). According to a source near the school, these students would be the 11 kidnapped 31 October.
– Call for dialogue –
In a statement, the United States called "all parties to end the violence and enter into a broad dialogue of reconciliation without preconditions".
An official of the Presbyterian church, Foki Samuel Forba, said Tuesday that he had negotiated with the kidnappers who did not demand a ransom, he said, but "only" the closure of the school.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the separatists have pronounced a boycott of schools at the end of 2017, believing that the French-speaking system marginalizes pupils of the English-speaking minority.
The Presbyterian church said the school & # 39; until further notice & # 39; would remain closed.
Dozens of others who have been left open have been attacked by armed men in recent months. Halfway through October, six students had been kidnapped from a secondary school in Bamenda.
According to the authorities, only one in four children in September was able to return to school in the Southwest region.
Since the beginning of the conflict, kidnappings have been common in the English-speaking area. Some are focused on symbols of the state (officials and representatives of the authority of Yaoundé), others focus on the payment of a ransom.
Armed separatists, scattered in the equatorial forest in dispersed groups, have few resources and regularly fight with hunting or fist weapons.
But in the English-speaking region, mostly theaters with isolated action against gendarmerie or schools in rural areas, these massive kidnappings in urban areas are unprecedented.
– Kamto says "secluded" –
Since the presidential elections of 7 October, where very few English-speaking voters have been able to vote, the attacks in the northwest and southwest have increased.
There are almost daily clashes between the Cameroon security forces, which are used by Yaoundé in large numbers, and separatists.
According to armed gangs, armed gangs would have been added to this, rejecting the population and the companies.
The announcement Wednesday of the release of 79 students, after three days of detention, came the day after the swearing of Paul Biya, re-elected to 85 years with 71.28% of the votes for a seventh term.
On this occasion, the president, in power since 1982, acknowledged "the frustrations and aspirations of the vast majority" of Cameroonians in the English-speaking region & # 39; s.
Shortly after the ceremony, opponent Maurice Kamto spoke in Yaoundé, again claiming his "victory" in the election last month.
The demonstration was spread. On Wednesday evening his spokesman said that Mr. Kamto & # 39; by the police & # 39; was segregated and banished from any movement at home.
Since the announcement of Biya's re-election, the political climate has deteriorated, with dozens of opponents arrested and journalists arrested.
According to Olivier Bibou-Nissack, spokesman for Maurice Kamto, an activist arrested in Yaounde on October 29 remained detained on Wednesday and 83 others were prosecuted for demonstrating "against the electoral quarrel".
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