Armed separatists kidnap 78 children and headteacher in Cameroon

80 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon

81 people, mostly school children, kidnapped in Cameroon

The church has also said that Sunday's kidnapping was the second kidnapping at the same school in less than a week. Between February 2017 and May 2018, for example, at least 42 schools in the regions were attacked, including 36 that were damaged by arson attacks, 11 damaged by other types of attacks, as well as two school buses burnt down and various harassments and attacks on students and teachers.

A video purportedly of the kidnapped children has been released on social media by militants calling themselves the Amba Boys.

The school is in an English-speaking region, and no one has immediately claimed responsibility.

Governor Deben Tchoffo said they were taken from a Presbyterian school in Nkwen village.

Armed separatists kidnapped at least 79 students and three staff members from a Presbyterian school in a troubled English-speaking region of Cameroon.

An army search operation is under way in Cameroon to rescue dozens of people kidnapped from a boarding school.

The separatists have imposed curfews and closed down schools as part of their protest against President Paul Biya's French-speaking government.

In the video, abductors can be seen forcing young male students to identify themselves, their parents and say they have been kidnapped by Amba Boys and they don't know where they are.

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Meanwhile government has accused separatists who are now fighting an armed campaign for independence in the English speaking side of the country where the kidnappings occurred.

One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again.

While the video could not be independently verified, parents have been reacting on social media saying they recognise their children in the video. Tensions increased after Biya was easily reelected last month for a seventh term in office.

About 20 percent of Cameroon's 22 million people are English speaking.

The school's principal, the driver, and a teacher are still in captivity, the BBC's Mayeni Jones reports.

Cameroon, once a German colony, was divided between Britain and France after World War I. The French colony gained independence in 1960, becoming Cameroon. One government official blamed Anglophone separatist groups, but the largest separatist groups have denied involvement and condemned the attack, insisting that they do not attack civilians. Last week, an American missionary was fatally shot in the head while in his auto, apparently caught in crossfire between government soldiers and armed separatists in Bamenda.

More than 300,000 people have fled the violence, many of them living hand-to-mouth in the forests, and some across the border into Nigeria.

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