By Boris Esono (Buea-Cameroon)
A group of students kidnapped November 20 in a school in Kumba, South West Region have been released. The students and teacher were taken from the Lords Bilingual Academy by unknown men linked to the separatist forces.
The students according to the Senior Divisional Officer, SDO for Meme Division Chamberlain Ntou Ndong were freed after an operation carried out by the army which led to the death of some of the kidnappers.
“All the students have gone back to their families except the teacher who is in the hospital with an injury” he said “In the course of the operation, at least two assailants were killed, others injured, their camps burnt down and guns seized”.
He added that “three students were rescued by the army November 20 immediately after they were kidnapped while the others were freed in the early hours of November 21 during a crackdown on the kidnappers”.
“The operation that continued saw the army kill two other suspected kidnappers and seizing four guns and burnt down bikes used to transport the students”.
The Senior Divisional Officer however précised that nine students and a teacher of the Lords Bilingual College Kumba were kidnapped as opposed to previous figures reported in the media.
What began as protest in October 2016 in the North West and South West Regions against structural discrimination escalated into violence in 2017, and the situation has worsened considerably since. 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 violent crackdown.
The violence has led to massive internal displacement-at least 436,000 people are believed to be internally displaced while more than 30,000 have fled to Nigeria since September last year according to the UN Human rights wing.