Cameroon: French family freed | News | DW | 19.04.2013
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Cameroon: French family freed

Cameroon says a French family of seven kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in February and taken to Nigeria has been released. France said the family members, including four young children, were "all healthy."

The Cameroonian state broadcaster CRTV carried a message from President Paul Biya, saying the family had been "handed over last night [Thursday] to Cameroonian authorities."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who reportedly left Paris immediately for Cameroon to greet the freed family, said "they are extremely happy and in good shape."

"I spoke to the family on the phone," Fabius told the news agency AFP, adding the hostages were freed "in an area between Nigeria and Cameroon."

The family was abducted in Cameroon on February 19 and taken into neighboring Nigeria - just as France was engaged in a military offensive against Islamists in Mali.

Armed men on motorcycles snatched Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, an engineer with the French energy utility GDF Suez, his wife, four children aged five, eight, 10 and 12, and his brother. The family had been on vacation in Cameroon's Waza National Park, near the border with Nigeria.

Taken into Nigeria

Cameroon later said the captives were taken across the border into restive northeastern Nigeria.

Gunmen claiming to be from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram later released videos, threatening to kill the hostages unless Nigeria and Cameroon released militants they were holding.

One video showed a man who appeared to be Moulin-Fournier, who said the captives' health was declining. "We lose force [strength] every day and start to be sick; we will not stay very long like this," the man said in the recording.

Boko Haram has been widely blamed for killing hundreds of people in an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009.

ipj/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)