The Cameroon government said Wednesday that four schools in the conflict-ridden anglophone regions of the country had been attacked over the past two days and six teachers kidnapped.
“Several terrorists… kidnapped six teachers and 10 pupils” from a protestant school in Kumbo in the northeast of the country on Tuesday, government spokesman Emmanuel Sadi said in a statement.
The pupils were released the same day, “but the teachers remain in the hands of the secessionist rebels,” he said.
Then, on Wednesday, “nearly a dozen unidentified individuals” attacked a school in Limbe in the southwest, physically assaulting teachers and pupils, ransacking the building, and setting fire to part of it, Sadi continued.
Also on Tuesday, “four terrorists” fired shots at a college in Bamenda in the northwest before fleeing.
And in Fundong, also in the northwest, six pupils were snatched on Wednesday on their way to school, but later released, the town’s mayor Denis Awoh Ndong told AFP.
Since separatist violence erupted in Cameroon in 2017, the kidnapping of youngsters, attacks on teachers, and the destruction of schools have been frequent in the western part of the mainly French-speaking country.
Last month, after eight young children were massacred in class, Ilaira Allegrozzi, regional Central Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch, told AFP that schools were being “used as a weapon of war in this conflict. The separatists don’t want the children to be in the schools, institutions which they equate with central authority.”
In November 2019, UNICEF estimated that some 855,000 children in Cameroon’s anglophone regions did not attend school.
More than 4,100 public primary schools — around 90 percent of the total — and 77 percent of public secondary schools were either closed or not operating, UNICEF said.