Gunmen killed at least six children and badly wounded about eight others when they stormed a school in Cameroon’s Anglophone South West Region on Saturday and opened fire indiscriminately, officials and parents told Reuters.
The attacks occurred around midday when the gunmen arrived on motorbikes and entered the school in the city of Kumba, in an area where separatist insurgents operate, the sources said.
Many were injured when they jumped from second storey windows in an attempt to escape.
“They found the children in the class and they opened fire on them,” city sub-prefect Ali Anougou told Reuters.
Videos circulating on social media filmed by local journalists showed adults rushing from the school with children in their arms, surrounded by a crowd of wailing onlookers.
Local education official Ahhim Abanaw Obase confirmed the death toll and said that eight children were taken to hospital. He said the dead children were aged between 12 and 14.
Anougou and another official blamed the attack on secessionist insurgents who are seeking to form a breakaway state in Cameroon’s English-speaking west.
A prominent separatist leader said his team was working on a statement that will “express our disgust” at the attack, without providing further detail.
Anglophone secessionists have imposed curfews and closed schools as part of their protest against President Paul Biya’s French-speaking government and its perceived marginalization of the English-speaking minority.
Last year, officials blamed separatists for kidnapping dozens of schoolchildren, charges the separatists denied.