The re-election of Cameroon President Paul Biya last month has coincided with a rise in tensions across the African nation. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Nearly 80 children who were kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon have been set free, authorities said.
Gunmen took the group of 42 girls and 36 boys from a Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda in northwest Cameroon. The principal and one teacher are still being held.
"Praise God 78 children and the driver have been released," Rev. Fonki Samuel Forba told CNN. "The Principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying. For now, we still do not know the kidnappers until we interview the students."
Seventy-nine children were initially taken, but one girl escaped. A video shows each boy being forced to say their name, their parents' name, school and year into the camera. They said the kidnappers were Amba boys, a separatist group fighting for freedom for the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
"The abductors asked for a huge ransom and the church was helpless," Fonki told The Guradian. "However, the students regained their freedom very traumatized."
He did not say whether the ransom was paid.
The children received medical treatment and checkups and gave statements to government officials.
No groups have claimed responsibility for the abductions but some believe secessionist fighters could be to blame. Separatist groups have blamed Cameroon's government.
Hundreds have died in fighting between the English-speaking regions of Cameroon and government forces. The majority of the country speaks French.
Political tensions in the country have increased since President Paul Biya was re-elected to a seventh term.