An American missionary, Charles Wesco (pictured below with his wife and children) also died in the northwest region around Bamenda after he was shot in the head amid fighting between armed separatists and soldiers in northwestern Cameroon.
On social media, a video purporting to show some of the students was released by a group of separatists called "Amba boys", after Ambazonia, the name they have given the independent, Anglophone state they hope to establish, according to The Associated Press. Cameroon is a country still deeply divided by colonial influences of English and French- some of the English minority support the creation of a separate English state in the West called Ambazonia, and in the previous year militias have formed in pursuit of that goal.
The video reportedly shows some of the boys being forced to state their names and those of their parents. "You will be going to school now here", declared the men who identified themselves as the Amba boys.
Separatists have vowed to destabilise the regions as part of the strategy for creating a breakaway state.
The pupils appear to have been pawns in a conflict that has been raging in the English-speaking regions of the majority francophone central African country, although it is not clear exactly who took them and why.
The abductions, the worst incident so far in 13 months of unrest, came just a day before longtime President Paul Biya was to be sworn in for a seventh term in office.More news: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic write ranking history
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The children say they were kidnapped on Sunday night and do not know where they are being held.
One of them shouted, how many times have we asked you not to work here again.
Hundreds have been killed in violence in the country in the past year, the AP reports.
The government has also accused separatists of taking the children, but a separatist spokesman has denied involvement.
Governor Deben Tchoffo spoke publicly about the kidnappings, stating: "It is rather unfortunate that this is happening, that 79 of our children and three of their staff can be picked up by terrorists". The Anglophone regions have frequently erupted into violence since late 2016, when a number of English-speaking lawyers protested that a newly passed law wasn't translated from French. Armed separatists have even killed teachers who defied instructions to keep schools closed.
"Measures are being taken to ensure that the abducted students are brought back to the classroom", said Northwest governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique.