All 79 children and a driver that were kidnapped in Cameroon last Sunday were freed on Wednesday, November 7. The principal and one teacher are still being held captive by the armed men. A priest is conducting negotiations, according to "Reuters."
“Praise God 78 children and the driver have been released. The principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying,” Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, said.
The priest did not say when exactly the children were freed, or whether or not a deal had been offered to the kidnappers.
Multiple armed men have abducted 79 students and three others including the principal from a Presbyterian school in Nkwen village, according to the "Associated Press."
Late Sunday, November 4, local time, several armed separatists went into a boarding school in Bamenda, the west region of Cameroon, and kidnapped dozens of people, mostly the school's pupils.
A video of the kidnapped children was shared on social media sites by the suspects, who call themselves "Amba Boys." Amba is short for Ambazonia which is a name of the new country that the separatists hope to create, according to "BBC."
In the video, the men forced multiple young male students to give their names and the names of their parents. Also in the video, the children, all boys, say that they were taken Sunday night by armed men, but don't know where they are. The kidnappers said that they will only release the children when they get what they want.
“We shall only release you after the struggle. You will be going to school now here,” one man says.
The Right Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba, a moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, told "BBC" that he had spoken to the kidnappers.
"They don't want any ransom. All they want is for us to close the schools. We have promised to close down the schools," he said.
In the past year, hundreds have been killed in this region, and, sadly, this isn't the first time students have been abducted. The violence has increased between armed separatists and the military since the government began cracking down against protesters in both the northwest and southwest regions.
"The militias, who want to create Ambazonia, began to emerge in 2017 after a security force crackdown on mass protests, led by lawyers and teachers, over the government's alleged failure to give enough recognition to the English legal and education systems in the North-West and South-West," "BBC" reports.
The separatists believe that the Cameroon school system suppresses the English-speaking system that the Northern and Southern regions inherited from the British, according to "BBC."
Please keep the children and everyone involved in your thoughts and prayers.