Teachers kidnapped in troubled Cameroon region

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Cameroonian army soldiers.
Cameroonian army soldiers.
Marco Longari, AFP
  • Several teachers were kidnapped from a school in Cameroon's Northwest Region.
  • The region has been gripped by an armed conflict.
  • Anglophone militants declared an independent state in the Northwest Region and neighbouring Southwest Region.

Between six and 11 teachers have been kidnapped from a school in a western Cameroon region gripped by a three-year-old armed campaign by anglophone separatists, local sources said.

READ | 'Please get me home to my dying son' - Dad stranded in Cameroon's plea to SA govt

The abduction comes on the heels of the killing of seven schoolchildren, which the government has blamed on militants.

The incident happened on Tuesday in Kumbo, in Cameroon's Northwest Region.

Armed men raided the local Presbyterian primary and secondary school, taking away 11 teachers, said Reverend Samuel Fonki, head of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, and Stephen Afuh, head of a Presbyterian teachers' union called PEATTU.

A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that six teachers had been kidnapped.

Independent state

There was no immediate response from the armed forces or government to a request for comment.

In October 2017, anglophone militants declared an independent state in the Northwest Region and neighbouring Southwest Region, home to the most of the anglophone minority in the majority French-speaking country.

The declaration, which has not been recognised internationally, sparked a brutal conflict with the security forces.

More than 3 000 people have been killed and more than 700 000 have fled their homes. Rights groups say crimes and abuses have been committed by both sides.

Schools and other institutions deemed to be emblems of the Cameroonian state have been repeatedly targeted for attacks and kidnappings, often for ransom.

On 24 October, seven children were shot dead in their classroom in Kumba, in the Southwest Region.

In that attack, the government in Yaounde described the armed men as separatists "scaring off parents from sending their children to school".

The killings have not been claimed.

In November 2019, the UN children's agency Unicef estimated that 855 000 children were without schooling in the two anglophone regions.

Around 90% of state primary schools and 77% of state secondary schools were either closed or non-operational at that time.

Anglophones account for about four million of Cameroon's 23 million population.

Their presence is explained by the decolonisation process in West Africa some 60 years ago.

In 1961, a British-ruled territory, the Southern Cameroons, voted to join the newly independent former French colony of Cameroon. The Northern Cameroons joined Nigeria.

There has been decades-long resentment among anglophones in Cameroon at perceived discrimination in such areas as education, the economy and law.

Demands by moderates for reform and greater autonomy were rejected by the central government, leading to the declaration of independence as radicals became ascendant in the anglophone movement.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 249 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 455 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1199 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo