Boko Haram has released a video showing the French family which was kidnapped in Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria.
The three minutes 26 seconds video, posted on YouTube today, Monday, February 25, shows the seven members of the Moulin Fournier family, kidnapped on February 19: three adult members of the family - two men and one woman, and four children sitting between two armed men, masked, and in military fatigue, and a third who acted as the group spokesperson.
The family is shown as being held in an undisclosed location.
"We have been taken by Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad," one of the male hostages said in the video, referring to the name in Arabic of Nigeria's Boko Haram militants. "They want the liberation of their brothers in Cameroon and their women imprisoned in Nigeria."
The spokesperson confirmed they belong to the Jama'a Ahl al-Sunnah lil Da'wa wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram.
"The president of France has launched a war on Islam," said one of the apparent kidnappers, warning the hostages would be killed if their demands were not met.
"Finally, I say to you, fulfill all of these things, and if you leave one thing from them we will slaughter those we took, we will slaughter those we took," the spokesperson threatened at the end of the video.
The release comes a day after a faction of the group told journalists in Nigeria they were pushing for a ceasefire and that the leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, was in support of dialogue with the government.
French President, François Hollande, had mentioned Boko Haram as the kidnappers of the hostages.
French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed that Boko Haram had kidnapped the family, saying they were probably being held in Nigeria.
"The video tape... is being studied by our [intelligence] services, who are examining precisely the nature of these claims," he said. "French authorities are in close and permanent contact with Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities."
"A video of the French family kidnapped last Tuesday in northern Cameroon has been released by Boko Haram," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. "For all of us, these images are terribly shocking. They display a cruelty without bounds. We are proceeding with the checks required in these circumstances. All state resources are mobilised to free our compatriots."
A source close to the family confirmed the identities of the family members shown in the video to the AFP news agency. It was not clear when the video was made.
Cameroon's communication minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said he could not comment because his government was not aware of the video.
The governor of Cameroon's Far North Region, Augustine Fonka Awa, said he was not aware of any Boko Haram members being held in the country.
Watch the video below (in French and Arabic):