Members of a university football team were; abducted by armed men in Cameroon’s Southwest region, university officials told CNN Thursday.
Armed men seized the team of 20 male students from the training ground at the University of Buea on Wednesday, said Ngono Horace Manga, the university’s vice chancellor.
“They were training for an upcoming competition early in the morning when the armed men took them away from the field,” Manga told CNN.
Manga said the abductors have contacted the school authorities demanding a ransom for the player’s release. He said he would not disclose the amount so as not to jeopardize ongoing negotiations for the students’ release.
The head coach of the university football team, Nicolas Asongu, told CNN the kidnapping occurred about 7:30 a.m. local time Wednesday at the university.
“I had a little delay on my way to the training ground at the university campus. I arrived around 9:30 a.m. to learn that unidentified gunmen had kidnapped the students (players),” he said.
Asongu said eyewitnesses told him there were 25 people on the football field, but the men only took the players.
Those left behind said the armed men ordered the players to go with them on foot towards a back entrance leading out of university, Asongu told CNN.
“I am confused. I spoke with the players on the phone. The kidnappers told them to identify themselves,” Asongu said.
Military helicopters were; seen flying over Buea in search of the abducted students on Thursday.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Anglophone separatists fighting for independence from Cameroon’s mostly French-speaking provinces and calling for school boycotts have been; accused of kidnapping students in the country’s north and southwest region.
Seven students and a head teacher were; kidnapped by armed separatists from their school in Bafut; in the northwest of the country, Amnesty International said in a report in 2018.
In October 2018, a group of 78 children was; taken by gunmen from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda; northwest Cameroon, along with their principal, a teacher and a driver.
They were released a few days later, but one of the female students told CNN their abductors warned them not to go back to school.