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The armed separatists have vowed to destabilise the regions as part of the strategy for creating a breakaway state.

On social media, a video purporting to show some of the students was released by a group of separatists called "Amba boys", after Ambazonia, the name they have given the independent, Anglophone state they hope to establish, according to The Associated Press.

The country's communications minister, Issa Bakary Tchiroma, said all students, who had been taken from a school in the city of Bamenda, had been released. A major reason for this rise in violence can be attributed to the government crackdown against those protesting in the northwest and southwest regions, declaring that as the English-speaking minority they are deprecated by the French-speaking government.

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

Dozens of people, a lot of them children, have been kidnapped from a school in the city of Bamenda in Cameroon's northwestern Anglophone region, which is struggling with a separatist insurgency.

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

Reports from the North West region say parents have gathered at the gate of the Presbyterian Secondary School to collect their children after hearing the news. "You will be going to school now here", say the men who identified themselves as Amba boys.

The government has also accused separatists of taking the children, but a separatist spokesman has denied involvement.

He pleaded with the kidnappers to free the staff still held.

No fewer than 79 students were reportedly abducted on Monday morning with their teacher, the principal and a driver. Worldwide actors - especially the African Union, the United Nations, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States - should unanimously condemn violence against civilians and make clear that no political objective justifies tampering with the right to education and abducting sleeping schoolchildren from their beds.

Last week, separatist militants attacked workers on a state-run rubber plantation in southwestern Cameroon, allegedly chopping off their fingers because the men defied an order to stay away from the farms.

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 Tuesday.


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