Home / World

French hostages taken into Nigeria

By Agencies in Yaounde, Cameroon | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-21 07:27

 French hostages taken into Nigeria

Waza natural Park, in northern Cameroon. Seven French tourists, three adults and four children, were kidnapped on Tuesday by unidentified men in northern Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria. Marc Preel / Agence France-Presse

French hostages taken into Nigeria

Security increased around Cameroon as military helicopters search for family

Kidnappers who seized seven members of a French family - including four young children - in Cameroon have taken them across the border into Nigeria, Cameroon's government has said.

The family - a couple, their children aged 5, 8, 10 and 12, and an uncle - were snatched by six gunmen on three motorbikes on Tuesday.

The abduction of the vacationing family comes amid fears of Islamist reprisals over France's military offensive against al-Qaida-linked groups in Mali.

"The kidnappers have gone across the border into Nigeria with their hostages," Cameroon's foreign ministry said in a statement aired on state television and radio.

The family was abducted early on Tuesday at Sabongari, 7 km from the northern village of Dabanga near the Nigerian border, the foreign ministry said.

They had earlier visited Waza National Park in the north of the country, according to a source close to the French embassy in Cameroon.

French energy group GDF Suez confirmed that one of its employees based in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, had been kidnapped along with his family while on vacation in the northern part of the West African country.

French President Francois Hollande said during a visit to Athens that he had been informed of the kidnapping, suspected to have been carried out by a Nigerian "terrorist group that we know well".

"I note in particular the presence of a terrorist group, namely Boko Haram, in that part of Cameroon, and that's worrying enough," he said, adding at the time that France was doing everything possible to prevent the kidnappers from moving their prisoners to Nigeria.

Cameroonian military helicopters are searching for the vacationing French family in the country, and security around the region is being increased.

Cameroonian President Paul Biya ordered tight security measures and urgent steps to free the hostages.

"We have strong suspicions regarding the Islamist sect Boko Haram," which is blamed for killing hundreds of people in an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009, according to a local security source.

A number of Boko Haram members are believed to have trained with al-Qaida militants in the Islamic Maghreb in northern Mali.

France's Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday that there was no proven link between the French operation in Mali and the kidnapping. But speaking on France-2 television, he said, "These are groups who adhere to the same fundamentalism and who have the same methods, whether it is in Mali, in Somalia or in Nigeria, who want to create a lawless zone" stretching from the Atlantic across the southern edge of the Sahara to Sudan.

On Tuesday, the French embassy in Yaounde advised all French nationals in Cameroon's northern border areas to stay indoors.

Though it is the first abduction of Western tourists on Cameroonian soil, there have been several hostage-takings off the coast attributed to pirates, and in neighboring Nigeria.

In December, French engineer Francis Collomp was kidnapped in Nigeria in an act claimed by Nigerian radical Islamist group Ansaru, which is thought to be a Boko Haram splinter group.

On Monday, Ansaru also claimed the kidnapping of seven foreigners in a deadly weekend raid on a construction site in northern Nigeria.

Claiming responsibility for that attack, Ansaru invoked "the transgressions and atrocities committed by European nations in several places, including Afghanistan and Mali", singling out France in particular.

Tuesday's abduction brings the number of French hostages abroad to 15 - all in Africa, with at least six being held by AQIM.


French hostages taken into Nigeria

(China Daily 02/21/2013 page10)

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349