UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday condemned the kidnapping of students and staff from a school in Cameroon.
The 79 children, along with three staff members were reported to have been kidnapped Monday from the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, in the northwest region of Cameroon.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric emphasized "there can be no justification for these crimes against civilians, particularly minors, in a statement.
Dujarric added that Guterres called "for their immediate release and return to their homes and families."
While no one has claimed responsibility, in a statement on Facebook, Ambazonia Defense Forces spokesman Tapang Ivo Tanku blamed government forces for the kidnapping.
Tanku invited U.S. and U.K. forces to help search for the victims, saying the kidnappers were French-speaking.
Cameroon has been marred by protests for more than a year, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.
Hundreds have died in the conflicts between English and French speakers in the last two years.
"The Secretary General called for a peaceful solution to the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon through an inclusive dialogue process," Dujarric said.
Source: Anadolu Agency