Minister confirms releases of 78 students and the driver kidnapped in Bamenda, Cameroon.
Cameroon’s information minister, Issa Bakary Tchiroma said on Wednesday that all seventy nine children who had been kidnapped in the English Speaking Northwest region had been released..
He did not initially specify under what conditions the release was obtained.
A principal and one of the teachers of PSS Nkwen School were however still detained by the kidnappers, according to a priest who was conducting negotiations.
Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, also said the released children were actually seventy eight, clarifying that the earlier figure of 79 included a teacher.
“Praise God seventy eight children and the driver have been released. The principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying,” Fonki said.
Fonki and the Cameroonian military have accused Anglophone separatists of carrying out the kidnappings, but a separatist spokesman denied involvement.
In an inauguration speech following last month’s election to extend his 36-year rule, President Paul Biya told the separatists to lay down their arms or face the full force of the law, offering no concessions to them.
Anglophone secessionists have imposed curfews and closed schools as part of their protest against Biya’s French-speaking government and its perceived marginalisation of the English-speaking minority, although they had never kidnapped children before.