Massive search launched for 79 school children kidnapped in Cameroon

Kamto is protesting against the election results that declared Paul Biya the winner

Authorities in Cameroon say search operations have been launched to ensure that some 79 children abducted from a boarding school in the restive Northwest region are found and brought back to class. "You will be going to school now here".

A video purportedly of the kidnapped children has been released on social media via men who call themselves "Amba boys", a reference to the state of Ambazonia that armed separatists are trying to establish in Cameroon's Anglophone northwest and southwest regions.

The first mass abduction in Cameroon follows two major such incidents in neighbouring Nigeria, where the Islamist group Boko Haram snatched more than 200 schoolgirls from the Borno state town of Chibok in April 2014.

The unit swooped on the pupils at the Presbyterian school in Nkwen village in Cameroon, a local governor said.

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The students were enrolled at the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, capital of Cameroon's Northwest Region - one of two areas where surging anglophone separatist militancy has been met with a brutal crackdown by authorities.

The separatists in Cameroon have been protesting against the French-speaking government led by president Paul Biya and demanding a separate state. "They were taken to the bush", the source said. Tensions increased after Biya was easily reelected last month for a seventh term in office.

Rebels have gunned down Cameroon troops, pictured, and police.

In the video, the kidnappers force several young male students to give their names and the names of their parents.

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"We shall only release you after the struggle".

One of the original gripes was that French-speaking teachers were being deployed to English-speaking schools in the north-west and south-west regions. The footage could not be immediately verified, but parents have reportedly been reacting to images of their children on social media, according to AP.

Biya was credited with 71.3 percent of the vote, although the ballot was marred by allegations of widespread fraud, low voter turnout and violence.

The government was accused of relying heavily on people trained in the French legal and educational tradition to work in key posts and generally marginalising Cameroon's English-speaking minority, who make up about 20% of the population. 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.

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A government spokesman said it was keeping track of an event but that it could not comment further.

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