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No negotiation for kidnapped family, France says

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-27

France will not negotiate with militants holding a French family hostage, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday. The militants claim to be from Boko Haram, although some analysts say the kidnapping does not bear the hallmarks of the group.

France will not negotiate with the militants who took a French family of seven hostage in northern Cameroon last week, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday. The militants claim to be from Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, although some regional analysts say the kidnapping does not bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram operations.

In a video posted online on Monday, the gunmen threatened to kill the three adults and four children unless the Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities release Muslim militants they are holding.

"We do not negotiate on that kind of basis, with these kind of groups," Le Drian told RTL radio. "We will use all [other] possible means to ensure that these and other hostages are freed."

“We do not play this bidding game,” le Drian said. “That is terrorism.”

Nigeria specialist Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday that it remains unclear whether the kidnapping in Cameroon was carried out by Boko Haram itself, an independent group with links to the militants, or one that simply shares its ideals.

“It is a very fragmented movement,” he said.

There are two main reasons to doubt claims that it was a Boko Haram operation, he said: “First, Boko Haram has never before kidnapped foreign nationals. Secondly, the video does not show the leader of the sect.” Pérouse de Montclos cautioned that, for the moment, France should not assume the group was operating under the specific orders of Boko Haram.

He suggested that an independent militant group “may have come across the family of French tourists by chance and decided to take them on their own initiative ... it may not have been an operation planned in advance”.

“All you see in the video is military men claiming to be members of Boko Haram, demanding the release of women detainees by Nigeria and Boko Haram members by Cameroon,” he continued. “In the Arabic version of the video, they ask France to stop fighting in ‘an Islamic country’. Presumably that would be Mali.”

As for demanding the release of prisoners, “I think they are trying to justify why they kidnapped a woman and children, which is definitely not something that has been advocated by the spiritual leader of the group,” Pérouse de Montclos said. By asking specifically for the release of women, he said the group “seems to be trying to draw a parallel to the kidnapping, to point out that Nigeria is detaining their women also”.

Pérouse de Montclos said the video clearly shows that the kidnapped family remains together and that prior media reports that they had been separated were mistaken. However, he noted that since it is not known when the video was recorded, the family could have since been separated.

“Was [the video filmed] two, three, four days ago? Are they still together? We do not know anything about that,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)


Date created : 2013-02-26


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