• France's news in English
 

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.

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
Butcher gets jail term for cannabis cake prank
The cake in this picture is not the cake from the story. Photo: Michał Bażak/Flickr

Butcher gets jail term for cannabis cake prank

43 minutes ago

A French supermarket butcher has been handed a suspended prison sentence after he gave his colleagues a cannabis-laced chocolate cake, a move that caused the shop to close and five people to be hospitalized.

Guest blog - French exports
How English fans are funding French football
Anthony Martial's "€80 million" move to Manchester United will help prop up French football. Photo: AFP

How English fans are funding French football

1 hour ago

Forget fine wines, luxury perfumes and cars, France's most important export to the UK could be its footballers and it's all thanks to the legion of English armchair fans, argues Martin Dixon from the Franco British Chamber of Commerce. Vive l'entente cordial.

French farmers' protest
French farmers' tractor protest rolls into Paris
A convoy of tractors runs in a street of Paris on Thursday. Photo: AFP

French farmers' tractor protest rolls into Paris

1 hour ago

UPDATED: Up to 1,700 tractors along with thousands of furious farmers descended on Paris on Thursday in a show of force to raise attention to their plight. Motorists have been told to stay off the roads.

Russia rejects French proposal to limit UN veto
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. Photo: AFP

Russia rejects French proposal to limit UN veto

3 hours ago

Russia on Wednesday dismissed as "populist" a French proposal to limit the use of the veto at the UN Security Council and said it would oppose it.

Time for France to show fraternité to refugees?
Should France stick to its traditions and accept more refugees? Photo: AFP

Time for France to show fraternité to refugees?

3 hours ago

As images of a drowned Syrian boy shock Europe to the core, France like other EU nations comes under more pressure to welcome more refugees. But will France open its doors as it has done in the past?

Migrant crisis
France joins call for reform of asylum rules
A rescuer walks past migrants waiting to disembark from the Irish military vessel Naimh after its arrival in the port of Palermo. Photo: AFP

France joins call for reform of asylum rules

7 hours ago

France joined Germany and Italy in calling for an overhaul of laws on the right of asylum and a fairer distribution of migrants throughout the European Union, Italy's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

French jobless rate stays stable at ten percent
May Day protests in France where marchers demanding jobs and labour reform.

French jobless rate stays stable at ten percent

7 hours ago

French unemployment was stable in the second quarter at around 10 percent, official data showed on Thursday, as the EU's second-largest economy continues to grapple with a stagnant economy.

Eurostar nightmare: 'We can hardly complain'
Passengers on a Eurostar train plunged into darkness, but should we really complain? Photo: Simon Gentry

Eurostar nightmare: 'We can hardly complain'

1 day ago

The Local's Oliver Gee was one of thousands of passengers stranded for hours on six Eurostar trains that became blocked when migrants broke through security. He says it's hard to complain given the hardship of those that caused the chaos.

Man arrested over deadly Paris apartment fire
The body of a victim is loaded into a van outside a building in Paris where a fire killed eight people early. Photo: AFP

Man arrested over deadly Paris apartment fire

1 day ago

UPDATED: A fire in an apartment building in the north of Paris early on Wednesday morning killed eight people, including two children. A criminal investigation has been launched and one man has been arrested on suspicion of arson.

French Couchsurfer host filmed guests in shower
The man admitted to using a hole at the back of his wardrobe to watch female guests while they washed. File photo: Steven Zolneczko/Flickr

French Couchsurfer host filmed guests in shower

1 day ago

A host of the "Couchsurfing" scheme, who secretly filmed his guests while they showered and added acid to their shower gel at his home in Marseille has been jailed for six months by a French court.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Why has France abandoned its tradition of sheltering refugees?
Thousands of furious French farmers roll in to Paris on tractors
National
Winter is coming as Paris hosts Game of Thrones exhibition
Came for love, fear for job, but adore way of life - Are you a typical expat?
Would a new Calais migrant camp be a step back to the days of Sangatte?
Opinion
French education is in 'crisis' - Here are ten ways to fix it
French minister says 35-hour week not working in France
IN PICS: Police evict 300 people from France's oldest shanty town
Features
Take a look at some of the wackiest bars you can find in Paris
National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se