Pope Francis Deplores Fatal Shooting of Schoolchildren in Cameroon

In this Aug. 22, 2018 file photo, Pope Francis is caught in pensive mood during his weekly general audience at the Vatican. Francis' papacy has been thrown into crisis by accusations that he covered-up sexual misconduct by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File

ROME — Pope Francis condemned last weekend’s shooting in Kumba, Cameroon, that claimed the lives of seven schoolchildren and left over a dozen others wounded.

“I participate in the suffering of the families of the young students barbarically killed last Saturday in Kumba, in Cameroon,” the pope said Wednesday following his weekly general audience in the Vatican.

“I feel great bewilderment at such a cruel and senseless act, which tore the young innocents from life while they were attending lessons at school,” the pontiff added. “May God enlighten hearts, so that similar gestures may never be repeated again and so that the tormented regions of the north-west and south-west of the country may finally find peace!”

“I hope that the weapons will remain silent and that the safety of all and the right of every young person to education and the future can be guaranteed,” Francis concluded. “I express my affection to families, to the city of Kumba and to the whole of Cameroon and I invoke the comfort that only God can give.”

The pope’s appeal came in response to a shooting incident attributed to Cameroon’s ongoing “Anglophone crisis” raging in the country’s troubled southwest region.

On October 24, unidentified gunmen stormed the campus of Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba and opened fire on the schoolchildren who were on average under 14 years old.

“They found the children in class and they opened fire on them,” city sub-prefect Ali Anougou told Reuters.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the killings, government authorities have laid the blame on and the region’s Anglophone separatists, who claim they have been marginalized by the Francophone-dominated government.

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