By Eric Tataw – Saturday February 16, 2019.
Nearly 300 students of St Augustine’s College, a Catholic secondary school in the town of Kumbo, Bui Division of the restive North West region of Cameroon have been kidnapped, National Telegraph has learned.
The students, reports say were kidnapped early Saturday, February 16, 2019, by yet-to-be-identified armed men, making it the largest school kidnapping in Africa. All attempts to reach Rev Fr. Anothony Lawir, Catholic Education Secretary of the Diocese of Kumbo for a statement on the matter ended in futility.
This kidnapping tops 276 schoolgirls taken away from a school in Nigeria on the night of April 14, 2014, when a Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok, Borno S
Five years on, armed and unidentified men have invaded the premises of St Augustine’s College, a Catholic secondary school in the town of Kumbo and committed an act more heinous than the Chibok incident. A thing that many have described as wanting, calling on urgent intervention in Cameroon.
Though no group has claimed responsibility, inhabitants of Kumbo have been quick to liken hosts of controversial mass abductions since the start of an armed conflict in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, formerly British Southern Cameroons.
In October 2018, 82 students were abducted from Presbyterian Secondary School Nkwen, Bamenda III Sub-division, the chief town of the conflict-hit North West region and released two days later at Nsem Bafut, another war-torn town, many kilometers away from where they were kidnapped.
Many questioned how the huge number of students were successfully taken out of the school to an unknown destination without being spotted by security officers who are dotted everywhere in the area.
Moreover, the Region was under a dusk to dawn curfew and movements were restricted between 6 PM and 6 AM implying a near impossibility to transport that huge number of students without being tracked by the military.
Just after their abduction, the Governor of the North West Region, Adolphe Lele L’Afirque also banned movements from one Sub-division to another. It remains unclear how the students were later transported back to the place of rescue by their abductors given that the place was heavily militarized and movements almost on a standstill.
Church authorities maintained sealed lips as to who they suspect carried out the act, but Cameroon Government authorities and separatists have accused each other for the kidnapping.
Some Cameroonians blamed security forces for staging the abduction to give the pro-independence fighters a bad name, while others said the separatists (Amba Boys) are responsible since they called for school boycott.
Cameroon government has been highly criticized for choosing a military option instead of dialogue to solve the crisis that has led to several deaths and displaced over 160 000 both internally and externally according to the UN.
Hundreds of Cameroonians now live as refugees in Nigeria while many others are held in various detention centers across Cameroon, National Telegraph has been told.
Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong, the Senior Divisional Officer for Meme, a Division in South West Region of Cameroon has on Saturday, February 16, 2019, organized a peaceful march against the Southern Cameroons conflict.
National Telegraph learned that Anglophone militias in the precinct on noticing of it, intercepted the March. Several gunshots were heard and a commotion was caused, dispersing many women and others who were in the Kumba Market.
The protest was specifically against a 10-day lockdown imposed by the Interim Government (IG), an outlawed government piloting an armed conflict against the Cameroon Government, demanding for the restoration of the statehood of the former British Southern Cameroons aka Ambazonia, National Telegraph has been told.