At least eight children were killed and several were wounded after a disastrous attack in a school in southwestern Cameroon with guns and machetes.
According to the international news agency, the men arrived on motorbikes in civilian clothes. They attacked Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in the city of Kumba, in the country’s Southwest Region, at around midday on Saturday.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The UN described the incident as “the worst atrocity” since the reopening of the school year earlier this month.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, “At least eight children were killed as a result of gunshots and attack with machetes. Another twelve were wounded and taken to local hospitals.”
Sources reported that some children were injured jumping from second-storey windows. Videos are circulating on the internet in which adults can be seen rushing from the schools with children.
Isabel Dione rushed to the school to look for her 2-year-old daughter when she heard about the shooting. She found her on the floor of a classroom, bleeding from the stomach.
“She was helpless and she was shouting ‘mum please help me’, and I told her ‘only your God can save you now’,” Dione told Reuters. The girl was rushed to hospital where she is undergoing treatment for a gunshot wound.
“I am shocked and outraged by the killing of innocent school children [who] were attending school to get an education,” said Matthias Z Naab, the UN’s resident humanitarian coordinator in Cameroon.
“Children have a right to education. Violence against schools and innocent school children is not acceptable under any circumstances and can constitute a crime against humanity if proven in a court of law. I call on the competent authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this tragedy,” added Naab.
African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said: “There are no words of grief nor condemnation strong enough to articulate my full horror at the brutal attack targeting primary schoolchildren … as they sat learning in their classroom.”