French President Fancois Hollande yesterday accused Nigerian terrorists of kidnapping French nationals in Cameroon. Seven French nationals, including three children, were abducted by armed men on motorbikes from a Camroon border town and taken towards Nigeria.
They where taken from Dadanga village – less than 10 kilometres from the Nigeria border. The victims were likely returning from a trip to Cameroun’s Waza National Park. The park is about 240 kilometres to the east of Maiduguri, a stronghold of the extremist group Boko Haram.
“They have been taken by a terrorist group that we know and that is in Nigeria,” Hollande told reporters during a visit to Greece. The seven tourists were abducted at around 7 a.m. in a village about 10 km (six miles) from the Nigerian border near the Waza National Park and Lake Chad in the extreme north of Cameroon where Westerners often go for holidays. It was the first case of foreigners being snatched in the mostly Muslim north of Cameroon, a former French colony. “I see the hand of (Nigerian militants) Boko Haram in that part of Cameroon.
France is in Mali, and it will continue until its mission is completed,” Hollande said. France intervened in Mali last month when Islamist rebels, after hijacking a rebellion by ethnic Tuareg MNLA separatists to seize control of the north in the confusion following a military coup, pushed south towards the capital Bamako. Hollande added that the captives were all members of the same family. The were based in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, working for “a large energy company”, bfm television quoted Hollande as saying.
“They were (in Cameroon) for professional reasons, but they were on a tourist trip” to the north of the country, he said.
The French ambassador in Yaounde, Bruno Gain, said “no ransom had been asked for”. Boko Haram has waged an insurgency against Western lifestyles and wants to impose Islamic law in Nigeria. They are believed to be responsible for the killing of more than 1,400 people since 2009.
An offshoot of the group, called Ansaru, claimed responsibility for taking seven workers from a construction company’s offices in Jamaa’re, Bauchi State, Nigeria at the weekend.
The same group also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Frenchman in Nigeria last December, near the Niger border.