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Bridging The Gap
Cameroon kidnap: Bamenda students freed
  Wednesday 07 November, 2018
Cameroon kidnap: Bamenda students freed

Schoolchildren kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon's North-West region have met the regional governor after being freed.

The 78 boys and girls 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 has accused separatists in the English-speaking region of being behind the kidnapping.

The Anglophone separatists have denied they were involved.

The secessionist 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.

The kidnapped students, aged between 11-17 years old, were "frightened and traumatised but in good shape", Rev Fonki Samuel, Presbyterian Church Moderator in Cameroon, told the BBC Focus on Africa programme.

He said that they were being given food and being checked by the doctors before being reunited with their parents.

One of the hostages, 17-year-old, Alain, said the kidnappers forced them to run after seizing them. He told Reuters news agency that they were not mistreated and the captors gave them food.

"They gave us kontchap [a mix of corn and beans] to eat... It was not enough but they still gave us some. They also gave us water," he said.

Rev Samuel said the Bamenda's Presbyterian Secondary School - where the students were seized - had been closed.
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 Samuel said.

"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, surprisingly and by God's grace, the children were brought back to us."

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46122678

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