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French hostages in Cameroon 'freed'

  • Published in Africa

The family were seized from this vehicle as they toured northern CameroonA French family of seven kidnapped in Cameroon earlier this week have been freed and rescued in Nigeria, French media are reporting.

"They are safe and well," a Cameroonian military source is quoted as saying.

The three adults and four children were seized during a holiday, causing alarm in France and prompting it to warn all French citizens to leave the area.

French President Francois Hollande speculated they had been taken by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram.

But French media on Thursday morning quoted sources in Cameroon saying they had been found.

The French veterans minister Kader Arif confirmed the news, but then backtracked, saying there was no official confirmation.

Stayed overnight

The family - a couple, their children aged five, eight, 10 and 12 and an uncle - were snatched on Tuesday in northern Cameroon by six gunmen on three motorbikes, the French news agency AFP reports.

They had been returning from a visit to Waza National Park - which is described as a beautiful landscape, trodden by giraffes, elephants and antelopes - where they had spend the previous night.

The family are reported to live in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, where the father worked.

The French government had said it believed they had been taken across the border into Nigeria following their abduction - apparently confirmed by the reports of their release.

"They were found abandoned in a house in Dikwa" in Nigeria, about 100km [60 miles] from the border with Niger, a senior Cameroonian officer told AFP.

"They are in the hands of the Nigerian authorities."

On Wednesday, France urged its citizens to leave north Cameroon "as quickly as possible".

The French foreign ministry said on its website citizens were "officially advised not to go to the far north of Cameroon (the shores of Lake Chad in the South Maroua), and the border with Nigeria, until further notice".


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