The kidnappers say they will not release the students until a new state is created.

YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Armed separatists kidnapped at least 79 students and three staff members from a Presbyterian school in a troubled English-speaking region of Cameroon, the governor said Monday.

North West Region Gov. Deben Tchoffo said the students abducted Sunday night were ages 11-17, and they were taken from Nkwen, a village near the regional capital, Bamenda, along with school staff that included the principal.

“It is rather unfortunate that this is happening, that 79 of our children and three of their staff can be picked up by terrorists,” Tchoffo said. “We have asked our military to do everything and bring back the kids alive.”

A video purporting to show the kidnapped students was posted on social media from a group of men who call themselves “Amba boys,” a reference to the state of Ambazonia that armed separatists want to establish in Cameroon’s Anglophone North West and South West regions.

In the video, men who identified themselves as the kidnappers forced several boys to give their names and those of their parents. The boys also said they were taken by the armed men late Sunday and didn’t know where they were being held.

The men in the video said they would only release the students once the goal of creating a new state is achieved.

“We shall only release you after the struggle. You will be going to school now here,” the men said. The video could not be independently verified, but parents said on social media they recognized their children in the recording.

Fighting between the military and separatists increased after the government clamped down on peaceful demonstrations by English-speaking teachers and lawyers protesting what they said were their marginalization by Cameroon’s French-speaking majority.

Hundreds have been killed in the past year.

The separatists have vowed to destabilize the regions as part of the strategy for creating a breakaway state.

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