LE PARISIEN, LES ECHOS (France), LE JOURNAL DU CAMEROUN (Cameroon)
YAOUNDE – Seven members of a French family kidnapped in February while holidaying in northern Cameroon were freed on Friday.
The Cameroonian government and the French government both issued statements on Friday saying the father, mother, uncle and four children aged between five and 12 years old had been released and were in good health, reports Les Echos.
C’est avec un immense soulagement que le président confirme la libération de la famille MOULIN-FOURNIER au Cameroun elysee.fr/communiques-de…
— Élysée (@Elysee) April 19, 2013
The family had been abducted while visiting the Waza National Park in northern Cameroon. They were identified as the Moulin-Fournier family, who were posted in Yaounde, the Cameroon capital for French gas firm GDF Suez, reports Le Journal du Cameroun.
Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, and asked for the liberation of its militants imprisoned in Nigeria and Cameroon.
Boko Haram, which has ties to al-Qaeda, is responsible for thousands of deaths in Nigeria and at least 28 suicide bombings.
In a video put online by the Islamist group, one of the militants had said “If our demands – all of them, without exception – aren’t met, we will kill those who we have captured. The French President has launched a war on Islam and we will fight him everywhere.”
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had answered by saying “We do not negotiate with these groups, in these conditions. We will use all means possible to make sure these hostages, and others, are liberated.”
It is not known how the family was freed, although GDF Suez CEO Gerard Mastrallet said the hostages were freed in a military operation.
French President François Hollande said his country had not paid a ransom for the family’s release, reports Le Parisien. Hollande said he had spoken to the father of the family on the phone and that they were healthy, relieved and very happy. “It’s good news, a huge relief,” said the president.