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November 15, 2018

Cameroon kidnap: Bamenda students freed

The pupils were taken from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda. /AGENCIES
The pupils were taken from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda. /AGENCIES

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.

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.

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."

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