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Africa

Who are the French hostages taken in Africa?

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-21

A French couple and their four young children were kidnapped in northern Cameroon on Tuesday. France 24 takes a look at the fast growing list of French nationals who have gone missing in Africa in recent years.

Seven French nationals, including a family of six, were snatched in broad daylight in northern Cameroon on Tuesday. The dramatic incident has shone a spotlight on France’s kidnapping woes in Africa, where at least eight other expatriates have been taken in under three years.

Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, a forty-something executive with French gas company GDF Suez, was taken with his wife, Albane, and their four boys, near Cameroon’s Waza wildlife park.

Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the French gas company executive kidnapped with his family in Cameroon on February 19, 2013.

Gunmen riding motorcycles seized their vehicle before taking them across the border to neighbouring Nigeria, only a few kilometres away, local officials have said.

The Moulin-Fournier family, residents of Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé for the past two years, was on holiday in the country’s north when they were targeted by the kidnappers.

Another Frenchman who was not immediately identified, and who sources said may have been an uncle, was also taken hostage.

French media have reported that Tanguy Moulin-Fournier grew up in the well-to-do city of Versailles and had several years experience working abroad. His work for French energy companies took him to the Czech Republic and Romania before his assignment in Cameroon.

Distraught relatives expressed special concern for the missing children, the youngest of whom is only five years old. The boys were students at the Le Flamboyant International School in Yaoundé.

A troubling list

The victims of the latest kidnapping were among 15 French nationals being held hostage abroad, the most for any country in the world, according to the IntelCenter terrorism watchdog site.

Daniel Larribe, nuclear company worker kidnapped with coworkers in Niger on September 16, 2010.

The earliest incident concerning French national who are still being held captive dates from September 16, 2010. On this occasion five French citizens, as well as a Madagascan and Togolese national, were taken from a uranium mine in northern Niger. The citizens from Madagascar and Togo, as well as one French woman who was ill, were freed in February 2011.

However, the four remaining Frenchmen, Thierry Dol, Daniel Larribe, Pierre Legrand and Marc Féret (Main photo of billboard), who were working for the nuclear energy firm Areva, remain in captivity. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

AQMI also said it was behind the kidnapping of two French businessmen, Serge Lazarevic and Philippe Verdon. Both were seized from the Hombori hotel in northeast Mali in November 2011. The terrorist group has sporadically released photos of the men.

Phillipe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic, French businessmen kidnapped in Mali on November 24, 2011.

In November 2012 Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, 61, was kidnapped in western Mali near the border town of Kayes. Another Islamic group in the region, the MUJAO, claimed responsibility for the human heist two days later. The group said on January 26 that it was ready to negotiate for his release.

Francis Collomp, 63, went missing in northern Nigeria on December 19, 2012. He was an engineer with the green-energy company Vergnet. Ansaru, a breakaway faction of the larger Islamist group Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for Collomp’s kidnapping, adding that it was in response to France’s military intervention in northern Mali.

WHERE FRENCH NATIONALS HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED

Date created : 2013-02-20

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