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19 Nov 2020 | 04:13 AM UTC

Gunmen kidnap staff from school in Bamenda (Northwest Region) November 18

Unidentified gunmen kidnap two teachers and the principle from Firm Foundation College in Bamenda (Northwest Region) on November 18; highlights threat of kidnapping in the region

security
CMR

Event

Several gunmen kidnapped two teachers and the principal from the Firm Foundation College in Bamenda (Northwest Region) on Wednesday morning, November 18. Reports indicate that no students were kidnapped, and no casualties occurred in the incident.

Similar incidents are possible in the Northwest Region over the near term.

Context

The incident in Bamenda is the fourth incident concerning schools in Cameroon's western Anglophone region in recent weeks. At least seven children were killed in an assault on a school in the Kumba area of the South West Region on October 24 and 11 teachers kidnapped from another in the North West Region city of Kumbo on November 3. On November 4, gunmen attacked a school in the Limbe area of the South West Region, setting alight to school buildings and attacking staff. Anglophone separatist rebels have repeatedly threatened schools in the region where lessons have continued to be taught in French. However, recent weeks have seen an increase in threats and attacks against educational institutions in the region after schools were permitted to reopen at the beginning of October following their closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tensions between Cameroon's minority English-speaking community and the national authorities remain high in the Northwest and Southwest regions, where a separatist movement has transformed into a low-level armed insurgency. The situation has deteriorated considerably since September 2017, when secessionists unilaterally proclaimed independence in the region. The United Nations estimates that at least 50,000 Cameroonians have fled the fighting to Nigeria since the beginning of the conflict, with more than 675,000 others believed to have been internally displaced.

Advice

Those in Cameroon are advised to remain vigilant, vary daily schedules and itineraries, and refrain from sharing personal information with unknown persons to limit the risk of being targeted by potential kidnappers. If attacked, remain calm, do not offer resistance, and adopt a cooperative attitude. Do everything in your power to keep the situation as calm as possible (e.g. accepted offered food, engage in conversation initiated by your captors, avoid all political or potentially inflammatory topics, etc.).

The security situation in Cameroon remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.

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