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Cameroon gunmen seize students from school

Map of Cameroon

Twenty students have been kidnapped by gunmen from a school in the restive English-speaking part of Cameroon.

The abduction in Kumba comes almost a fortnight after nearly 80 students were safely returned after being taken from a school in the neighbouring region.

Cameroon’s North-West and South-West provinces have been hit by a separatist rebellion since last year.

Armed groups have called on local residents to boycott schools until a referendum on independence is held.

Protests against marginalisation by the country’s French-speaking majority have been met with a crackdown.

Gunmen entered the Lords Bilingual School at 09:00 local time (08:00 GMT) and took 20 students and the principal, Kumba-based journalist Martin Cho says.

The private school is on the outskirts of Kumba, in the South-West region’s Meme district, and is surrounded by rubber plantations, he says.

A separate source at the school confirmed the abduction to the BBC.

A spokesperson for Meme, Ebane Kome Slesor, has told journalists the security forces have opened an investigation in a bid to free the abductees.

In the incident earlier this month in the North-West regional capital Bamenda, the government had accused separatists of being behind that kidnapping. The Anglophone separatists denied they were involved.

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The students kidnapped in Bamenda spent a few days in captivity

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.

They want to create an independent state called Ambazonia.

Journalist Peter Tah, who has been reporting on the conflict, told the BBC that Kumba had been badly affected by the unrest.

Most of its residents and those in surrounding towns in the South-West region have fled because of the fighting, he says.

Cameroon – still divided along colonial lines

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Africa’s borders were “carved up” up by colonial powers

  • Colonised by Germany in 1884
  • British and French troops force Germans to leave in 1916
  • Cameroon is split three years later – 80% goes to the French and 20% to the British
  • French-run Cameroon becomes independent in 1960
  • Following a referendum, the (British) Southern Cameroons join Cameroon, while Northern Cameroons join English-speaking Nigeria

Read more: Cameroon timeline

Cameroon gunmen seize students from school

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