Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - The 79 students of the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, the capital of one of the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, were kidnapped on 5 November (see Fides 6/11/2018).
According to news sent to Agenzia Fides the students were led by their kidnappers in the night to a Presbyterian church near Bamenda and then released. A spokesman for the Presbyterian Church said that the students - aged 11 to 17 - "appear tired and psychologically proven". The Presbyterian representative then appealed to the kidnappers to free the three school staff members who are still in their hands. The kidnappers belong to an English-speaking secessionist group, the "Amba boys", suspected of having recently committed other abductions regarding students of the school, later released in exchange for a ransom of 2.5 million CFA francs (about 4,000 US dollars).
Because of the kidnapping, the school's management decided to send its 700 pupils home and to suspend classes, stating that the safety of students and school staff "is not guaranteed by the State while armed groups continually attack and abduct them" .
For more than a year the areas of north-west and south-west of Cameroon are prey to the instability caused by the English-speaking separatists, who have proclaimed secession from the rest of the Country and the creation of an independent state, called Ambazonia (see Fides 2/10/2017).
The violent repression carried out by the military and the clashes between these and the different secessionist groups have caused the death of hundreds of people. Over 200,000 civilians have left the two regions to escape violence and instability.
In September, in view of the presidential elections held in October, the religious leaders of Cameroon had appealed to the government and political parties to give priority to resolving the crisis in their programs and to return to normalcy in the north-west and southwest. The appeal had been signed by the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, His Exc. Mgr. Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala, by Rev. Fonki Samuel Forba of the Council of Protestant Churches of Cameroon, and by Sheikh Oumarou Malam, of the Upper Islamic Council of Cameroon. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/11/2018)