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KIDNAPPING

Kidnappings: France ‘will not yield to terrorists’

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that France would not give in to "terrorists" after the kidnapping of seven members of a French family in northern Cameroon. France has told its citizens not to leave the north of the country.

Kidnappings: France 'will not yield to terrorists'
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, pictured in Paris on May 15th, 2012. Photo: Cyclotron/Wikimedia Commons

Seeming to exclude the possibility of paying a ransom, Fabius told the National Assembly: "We must do the maximum (to free the hostages) but nothing would be worse than yielding. We will not yield to terrorist groups."

The family – a couple, their children aged five, eight, 10 and 12 and an uncle – were snatched in northern Cameroon by six gunmen on three motorbikes on Tuesday and officials said they had been taken across the border into Nigeria.

France has said it suspects Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram was behind the abduction.

"There is every indication they were kidnapped to Nigeria. Everything also indicates that the perpetrators of this abduction" were Boko Haram, Fabius said.

"This adds to the other hostage-takings. Sadly France is one the countries that is perhaps most affected by this," he said.

President Francois Hollande condemned the seizure as an "odious" act, saying: "This is the first time that children have been taken hostage in this manner."

With the latest abduction, France has overtaken the United States as the country with the most number of hostages held abroad, with 15 nationals in captivity against nine Americans.

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RESTAURANT

Another person charged in Nice hotelier ‘kidnapping’ case

Another person has been charged over the suspected kidnapping of a millionaire French hotel magnate, who was found tied up in the back of a van in 2016, the prosecutor in Nice said on Friday.

Another person charged in Nice hotelier 'kidnapping' case
The Grand Hotel in Cannes, co-owned by Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Jacqueline Veyrac, 76, the owner of the Michelin-starred La Reserve restaurant in the French Riviera city of Nice was snatched last October as she was getting into her SUV.

She was discovered 48 hours later after being spotted by a passerby bound, gagged and tied to the van's floor.

The legal development comes after five people, four men and a woman, were questioned by investigators about their possible participation in the kidnapping after being arrested earlier this week.

In total, 16 people have already been implicated in the case, including nine who have been imprisoned.

The former manager of a gourmet restaurant in Nice, identified as Giuseppe S, is suspected of ordering the kidnapping because he harboured a grudge against Veyrac.

Originally from Turin, he managed La Reserve from 2007 until 2009 when his company went into liquidation.

Investigators believe this caused him to resent Veyrac, and suspect the kidnapping was a bid to recover money lost during the liquidation by demanding a ransom from those close to her.

Veyrac, whose husband died five years ago, co-owns the five-star Grand Hotel, as well as La Reserve, with one of her sons.

Veyrac was targeted in another attempted kidnapping in 2013, commissioned by the same man, according to the investigation.