March 12, 2018

Militants fail in attempt to kidnap students from school in Cameroon

A school was targeted by an armed group of English-speaking separatists

Photo credit: Alberto Vaccaro

A soldier was killed and three students were wounded when security forces tackled militant separatists who had targeted the school in the town of Batibo.

A soldier was killed in an attempted kidnapping by militants of students from a school in one of Cameroon's restive English-speaking regions.

"During an attack with weapons of war, a Cameroonian soldier lost his life and three students were wounded," the minister of territorial administration Paul Atanga Nji said in a statement read on state radio.

Separatists targeted the school in the town of Batibo in the northwest region on March 7 with the "clear objective of kidnapping students," he said, adding that security forces intervened in the attack. 

In his statement, Antanga Nji also said 18 cases of rape of girls aged between 13 and 18, some of whom are now pregnant, have recently been reported in Batibo and a cache of weapons and explosives discovered.

In Cameroon, 85% of children attend primary school and 53% go to secondary

Photo credit: Global Partnership for Education

It comes after the kidnap of two Cameroonian officials last month close to the town, which lies 25 miles west of the city of Bamenda. The abductions were claimed on social media by the so-called Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), an armed group of English-speaking separatists.

A push for independence from the majority French-speaking country has sparked deadly unrest in Cameroon's two anglophone provinces, home to around a fifth of the 23 million population.

The secessionist bid draws on widespread resentment over the perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophones.

Dozens of people have been killed in the two English-speaking northwest and southwest regions and tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring Nigeria following a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

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