At least eight children were killed after gunmen stormed a school in southwestern Cameroon on Saturday, the United Nations (UN) said.
"At least eight children were killed as a result of gunshots and attack with machetes," at the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, news agency AFP quoted the local UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying.
"Another twelve were wounded and taken to local hospitals," the statement by the official further said, which would make it one of the worst such attacks in the region to date.
Police sources said that the children were killed when a "group of nine terrorist assailants" stormed the school and opened fire on pupils aged between nine and 12 years.
Following the attack, President of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat tweeted: "There are no words for the grief nor condemnation strong enough to express my horror at the brutal attack which targeted primary school children... while they were sitting learning, in their classroom."
"I unreservedly condemn the acts of barbarism committed in Kumba. Murdering children... is to attack the very foundations of our nation," Cameroon Public Health Minister Malachie Manaouda was quoted by AFP as saying.
Accroding to a report in Reuters, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the bilingual school in Kumba, but the area has been caught up in violence between Anglophone separatists and government forces for three years.
It was also unclear if the attack was linked to an ongoing struggle between the army and groups seeking to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia in the English-speaking west.
According to the Reuters report, Some children were injured jumping from second storey windows, the report said.
"They found the children in class and they opened fire on them," Reuters quoted city sub-prefect Ali Anougou as saying.
Videos circulating on social media filmed by local journalists showed adults rushing from the school with children in their arms, surrounded by wailing onlookers.
(With inputs from Reuters and the AFP)