Militant group puts kidnapped family on YouTube
LAGOS: A French family kidnapped last week on the Cameroon-Nigeria border appeared in a video on YouTube on Monday, with one of the hostages and a gunman claiming that the family is held by the militant Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.
The family - three adults and four children - are shown sitting on the ground inside a tent made from prayer mats, in front of a black al-Qaeda-style banner, grim-faced but apparently in good health.
The children, boys aged five to 12, fidget and glance at the camera. The family is flanked by two masked, fatigues-wearing men holding rifles as another masked man reads out a statement in Arabic threatening to ''slaughter those we took'' unless the group's demands are met.
Message … the hostages and kidnappers on YouTube. Photo: AFP
The French military campaign against Islamist militants in Mali is obliquely referred to by the masked gunman, who says ''the President of France'' has ''waged war against Islam''.
Before that, a man identified by French media as Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the children's father, reads out a statement in French saying the family was ''arrested'' by Boko Haram. He uses the Arabic name for the group, which is responsible for hundreds of killings in a sustained three-year insurgency in Nigeria's north.
On Monday evening, French officials identified the kidnappers as members of Boko Haram, with the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, calling the video ''terribly shocking''.
But the video differs from others released by the group in that Hausa, the language of Nigeria's north, is not spoken on it; and Boko Haram has not previously been associated with kidnapping Westerners.
In addition, purported members of Boko Haram denied, in a statement to Nigerian journalists over the weekend, involvement in the kidnapping.
Mr Moulin-Fournier, an expatriate employee of the French gas group GDF Suez, was vacationing with his family at a national park in northern Cameroon near the border with Nigeria when they were seized early on February 19 by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
The New York Times