Family return to France after hostage ordeal | News | DW | 20.04.2013
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Family return to France after hostage ordeal

A family of seven held hostage for two months in Africa have landed in Paris, where they were greeted by relatives and President Francois Hollande. Receiving them at Orly airport, Hollande said, "Today, life has won."

Tanguy Moulin-Fournier; his wife, Albane; their four children; and his brother Cyril, touched down at a Paris airport in the early hours of Saturday morning after two months as hostages of the Nigerian group Boko Haram.

The family flew back to France with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on a government jet, a day after their liberation was announced.

Tanguy shook Hollande's hand on the runway after disembarking the Falcon jet, telling the president that "I am very happy to be back in France, it's a great moment."

French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes members of the Moulin-Fournier family as they arrive from Yaounde, at the Orly airport, near Paris, on April 20, 2013. (Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

Tanguy (wearing the blue blanket) works in Cameroon

Calling life the most beautiful and strong thing of all, Hollande said, "Today, life has won."

"France, as a family, is relieved and happy," Hollande said. "We are overcome with joy."

The family of seven was kidnapped in Cameroon on February 19, later spending much of their time in captivity in neighboring Nigeria. The three adults and four boys aged 5 to 12 looked a little thinner, but otherwise in good health. Tanguy said that "despite some very low moments" in captivity, "as a family, we kept up each other's spirits."

Terms of release unclear

Tanguy worked for the French gas company GDF Suez in Yaounde. The family met President Paul Biya in the Cameroonian capital before departing on the overnight flight to Paris.

On Saturday Hollande explicitly thanked his Cameroonian counterpart, "who played an important role these past few days."

The French government has so far only announced that no ransom money was paid and no military operation was launched to secure the Moulin-Fournier family's release.

They were held hostage by the Nigerian breakaway group Boko Haram, who on February 25 released a video demanding the release of prisoners in both Cameroon and Nigeria.

The family's abduction occurred as France was fighting a military campaign against an Islamist insurgency in northern Mali.

At least seven other French citizens are still being held hostage in Africa. They are thought to be in the Sahel region to the south of the Sahara desert.

Tanguy said on Saturday that he was looking forward to returning to his life in Cameroon as soon as possible, calling it "a very beautiful country where we find much joy."

msh/mkg (AFP, Reuters)