Rebel group kidnaps 78 pupils from their school

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Government forces have fought separatists in Cameroon's North West and South West regions.

"I was taken from school last night by the Amba boys", one said, while a heavily accented man shouted at him to "talk louder".

Cameroon's authorities have blamed the kidnap on Anglophone separatist militias - who have called for schools in English-speaking regions to be closed.

"Praise God 78 children and the driver have been released".

In another development, armed groups in Cameroon's restive English speaking regions have been attacking and chopping off fingers of workers of the country's second largest employer, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), in what has been described as renewed efforts to destabilise the central African state ahead of Tuesday inauguration of President-elect Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years.

The video shows several boys giving their names and saying they do not know where they are being held. "You will be going to school now here", say the men who identified themselves as Amba boys.

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There has been no official statement from the school authorities and as reporters spoke to the parents, majority believed a number of children who had not been kidnapped were being held by the authorities, something that only piles up their frustration.

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

The crisis started as an industrial strike by lawyers and teachers in 2016, but snowballed into an internal armed conflict since a year ago when separatists joined and symbolically declared the independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

"A widely followed boycott of schools was in place since late 2016, but since early 2017, school administrators and teachers perceived as not enforcing the boycott have faced increasing attacks by individuals and groups of individuals, acting on their own or in support of self-proclaimed armed separatist groups". Witnesses described being beaten, slapped and lectured on the living conditions at the school, before the attackers left with the principal, a teacher, a driver and the students.

He pleaded with the kidnappers to "free the staff still in their keeping". "The abduction of schoolchildren and teachers can never be justified".

An American missionary also died in the North West region near its capital, Bamenda, when he was shot in the head amid fighting between separatists and soldiers. Biya, who has been in office since 1982, is set to be inaugurated tomorrow.

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