- Boko Haram - Cameroon - France - hostages - Islamist militants - Nigeria
Video claims French family kidnapped by Boko Haram
Islamist abductors claiming to be Boko Haram say they are responsible for last week's kidnapping of a French family in northern Cameroon, in a short video posted on YouTube on Monday.
A video apparently showing seven French hostages kidnapped from northern Cameroon was posted online on February 25, with a man claiming that a radical Islamic group from Nigeria holds them.
The video, posted to YouTube, lasts 3:25 minutes and shows two men, a woman and four children flanked by two armed men wearing camouflage uniforms.
Another speaks in Arabic in front and says that Boko Haram has taken them hostage over the French military intervention in northern Mali.
“I address the President of France; we … Boko Haram … have taken hostage these seven people behind me: two men, one woman and four children at the border of Cameroon and Nigeria,” he said.
“The French president has chosen to go to war with Islam, and we are going to go to war with him.”
He also threatened the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria, and demanded the release of Boko Haram members in exchange for the hostages.
Addressing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, he said, “We are ready to go to war and we will win … glory will be ours.”
“If you do not meet all of our demands, and I say all of our demands without exception, we will be forced to execute the hostages,” he said.
“Yes, you have understood correctly, we will kill the hostages.”
Despite claims in the video, it was not immediately clear if the abductors were indeed from Boko Haram, which has carried out a violent insurgency for years in northern and central Nigeria but has never before claimed a kidnapping.
It is unknown when the video was recorded. A source close to the family confirmed their identities to AFP.
France's foreign ministry said it was still trying to verify the authenticity of the video.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement, "These images are terribly shocking. They display a cruelty without bounds."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the family was “probably” being held in Nigeria.
Cameroon's Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said he could not comment because his government was not aware of the video.
The family, who were based in Cameroon, were visiting the Waza National Park when they were kidnapped on February 19. They have been identified as Tanguy Moulin-Fournier and his wife Albane, as well as their four sons, Eloi, Andeol, Mael and Clarence, aged between 5 and 12 years old.
Tanguy's brother Cyril Moulin-Fournier was on vacation and with them at the time. The three adults are all around 40 years old.
The family, with the exception of the uncle, moved to Yaounde, Cameroon's diplomatic capital, in autumn 2011 when the father began a job there overseeing the construction of a liquid natural gas plant. The uncle lives in Barcelona, Spain.
Cameroonian and Nigerian soldiers are searching for them in the arid, rural border region the two countries share in West Africa.
More than 6,000 expatriates have settled in Cameroon yet these kidnappings mark the first time Westerners have been taken hostage in the western African country.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)