• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Kidnapped French family taken to Nigeria

AFP · 20 Feb 2013, 08:25

Published: 20 Feb 2013 08:25 GMT+01:00

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

The abduction of the holidaymakers comes amid fears of Islamist reprisals over France's military offensive against Al-Qaeda-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 were abducted early Tuesday at Sabongari, seven kilometres (four miles) 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 holidaying in the north 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.

A Cameroonian security source told AFP: "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.

A number of Boko Haram members are believed to have trained with Al-Qaeda militants in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Mali.

The French embassy in Yaounde on Tuesday 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 neighbouring 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.

Story continues below…

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 total number of French hostages abroad to 15 - all in Africa, with at least six being held by AQIM.

According to the US monitoring group IntelCenter, France is the Western country with the highest number of hostages being held, followed by the United
States, with nine.

Cameroon, a former French colony of 20 million people, has vast ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity and counts no fewer than 10 active rebellions.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where property prices have risen most in France
Photo: AFP

You might just have been priced out of the market if you're looking to buy in Bordeaux.

Official Paris refugee camps to open end of September
Photo: AFP

Will this see an end to the squalid makeshift camps that spring up across the city?

Paris Metro takes on 'air hostesses' to promote safety
Photo: RATP/Screenshot

Did you see the "air hostesses" on the Metro this week?

Paris region doubles security budget for schools
Photo: AFP

France is prioritizing the protection of schools amid a heightened terror threat.

All you need to know about changes in French schools
All photos: AFP

School's back tomorrow, with a raft of new changes. Here's what you need to know.

Emmanuel Macron the next French president - Really?
Emmanuel Macron: The next French president? Photo: AFP

Can the 38-year-old maverick and former Rothschild banker really become the president of France in eight months' time?

€50 million of coke found in Coke factory in France
File photos: Owen Blacker/Flickr and Adrian Scottow/Flickr

Employees have sniffed out 370kg of coke in a French Coke factory.

Morocco's king drains water supply from French villages
King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Photo: AFP

King in town + 300-strong entourage = no drinking water for a French village.

Macron vows 'to transform France from next year'
Photo: AFP

Ex-Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron sets his sights on the presidency albeit without saying so.

French PM suggests naked breasts represent France
A statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique in Paris, with her left breast on show. Photo: AFP

Just as the burqini ban furore was dying down French PM Manuel Valls has stirred things up again for suggesting naked breasts were a stronger symbol of the Republic than a Muslim headscarf.

Culture
16 things you almost certainly didn't know about France
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Politics
Emmanuel Macron: The whizzkid who could shake up French politics
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
2,753
jobs available