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Video of gunmen forcing kids to strip naked filmed in Cameroon, not Nigeria

IN SHORT: Several posts on social media claim that a video of gunmen forcing schoolkids to undress was filmed in Nigeria. But the incident took place in Cameroon.

Warning: The video fact-checked in this report shows violence against children.

Distressing footage of armed men forcing terrified schoolchildren to strip naked has been circulating on social media since late March 2024, with the claim it was shot in Nigeria.

The clip seems to have been filmed by one of the gunmen.

It shows a group of young girls and boys huddled in front of a grey building. Their shoes, clothes and school bags are scattered on the ground. The gunman recording the video repeatedly shouts “remove your clothes!”, “I shoot you!” and “I kill you!” as he fires his weapon in warning and the children undress.

Another armed man in a black uniform moves in and out of the frame, shouting similar threats.


The video’s captions include:

  • See a country that has police and army! Kidnapped school children in the hands of kidnappers and forced to go naked - boys and girls. This is insanity! Do we have a Government in Nigeria ?

  • Kidnapped school children in the hands of kidnappers. This is insanity. Do we have a Government in Nigeria or a band of insanely irresponsible fraudsters and looters that have seized power?

  • Nigerian Boko Haram soldiers kidnapping school children. This is insanity …

School kidnappings in northern Nigeria

The claim began circulating on 23 March, the day before the Nigerian army announced that it had rescued 287 school children abducted two weeks earlier from the town of Kuriga in the north-eastern state of Kaduna

This incident was followed by another on 9 March, when 15 children were taken from a school in Sokoto state, also in the northeast.

The Kaduna abduction, of children aged between eight and 15, is said to be the largest mass kidnapping in Nigeria in three years.

The country has been plagued by school kidnappings for years, mainly in the north. It's estimated that between 1,400 and 1,600 Nigerian children have been kidnapped from their schools since the infamous Chibok abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the north-eastern state of Borno in 2014.

In the northeast, school kidnappings are largely blamed on Islamist militants Boko Haram. But kidnappers in the northern region are also armed criminal gangs known as “bandits”.

The claim can also be seen here and here. But does the video show children abducted in Nigeria being forced to strip? We checked.

Cameroon’s Anglophone separatist crisis

Several social media users have called out the claim, saying the video was shot in Cameroon, Nigeria’s eastern neighbour.

One says the incident occurred in “the English speaking part” of Cameroon. Another writes: “These are ambazonia terrorists targeting school children in Cameroon, 12 Jan 2022.”

Africa Check googled the phrase “kidnappers in Cameroon force school children to strip naked”. This led us to a January 2022 Voice of America report that the video was shot near Government High School Buea. Buea is the capital of Cameroon’s English-speaking South West region.

A BBC Pidgin report adds that the gunmen in the video are speaking aPidgin native to di anglophone region of Cameroon”. Anglophone means English-speaking.

Today’s Cameroon was formed in the early 1960s by the union of a British colony in the west and a larger French colony in the east. Since 2017 the country has been wracked by a separatist conflict, with Anglophone secessionists demanding that the English-speaking North West and South West regions be given independence to form the country of Ambazonia.

In January 2022, Ambazonia separatists launched a series of attacks in an attempt to disrupt the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament, which Cameroon was hosting.

The assault on the Buea schoolchildren was part of that campaign.

Here’s how it’s described by Voice of America:

"In a video shared by Cameroon separatist fighters on social media platforms, armed men are seen shooting indiscriminately in the air while ordering about 15 children dressed in school uniforms to strip naked.

In the video, two armed men brandish weapons and threaten to kill any student who attempts to disobey the fighters’ orders. Other voices are heard ordering the students to lie down or be killed. The students plead for their lives to be spared."

The incident was also reported by the Cameroon-based Human Rights and Legal Resource Centre.

The video was shot in Cameroon, not Nigeria.


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