DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) — A French family with four young children kidnapped at gunpoint by Islamic extremists while vacationing in northern Cameroon has been freed after two months in captivity, Cameroonian and French authorities said Friday.
The Cameroonian government did not say where the reported rescue operation late Thursday took place. The French president said in a statement that all seven were in good health on Friday in Yaounde, the Cameroon capital.
The Feb. 19 kidnapping came as thousands of French troops were deeply involved in a military intervention against Islamic extremists in the West African country of Mali, and the French statement recalled that eight other French citizens are being held hostage in the Sahel region of Africa.
The French gas group GDF Suez has identified the captives as an employee working in Yaounde and his family. The group comprised three adults and four children, whom French media reported were between 5 and 12 years old.
Last month, a video surfaced showing a man who appeared to be Tanguy Moulin-Fournier. The man said his family was in the custody of the Islamic radical sect known as Boko Haram which wants all its members freed, especially women and children held in Nigerian and Cameroonian custody.
Boko Haram has been waging a campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria’s north. They are held responsible for more than 790 deaths last year alone, and dozens more since the beginning of this year.
Moulin-Fournier said his family was not doing well in captivity.
“We lose force (strength) every day and start to be sick; we will not stay very long like this,” he said in the recording.
The area where they were vacationing in northern Cameroon is located near the border with Nigeria.
Hinnant reported from Paris.