19 February 2019

Cameroon: 170 Students Kidnapped in Cameroon Released

Photo: VOA
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A local official who requested anonymity said more than 50 other people that had been abducted alongside the students were released.

The 170 students who were kidnapped alongside their teacher in a restive English-speaking region of Cameroon were released Sunday, two days after their abduction by gunmen, according to school authorities.

"They took away 170 students, two college security guards, one teacher and three of his kids. The abductees were released sometime in the afternoon of Sunday 17 February 2019," Elvis Nsaikila, Kumbo diocesan director of communications, said in a statement.

The statement added that shortly after their release, the abductees assembled in a mission station where they were conveyed by authorities back to the college campus in the evening.

The abducted students and their teacher are from St. Augustine's College, a Catholic secondary school in Kumbo, a town in Northwest, one of the two war-torn English-speaking regions of Cameroon. School authorities said they were abducted early Saturday "by unidentified gunmen."

"School authorities have requested parents and guardians to come and take their children back home as soon as possible. The school has closed down," said Nsaikila, adding that the two days of captivity were of "grave concern and anxiety."

A local official who requested anonymity said more than 50 other people that had been abducted alongside the students were released and that "they have all returned home."

Since November 2017, government forces have been clashing with militants who want the two Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest in Cameroon to secede from the largely French-speaking nation.

On early Sunday, a captain in Cameroon's army was killed by militants in Southwest, according to the Cameroon army.

On Feb. 11, crossfire between government forces and militants in Cameroon's Anglophone regions killed at least six civilians.

The United Nations estimates that at least 430,000 people have been displaced internally by the conflict.

The government and militants have also been engaged in a blame game of rampant kidnappings in the strife-torn regions.

The government regularly accuses militants of the abductions while the militants insist they are staged by the government to tarnish their image internationally.

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