ABUJA: A video posted Monday on YouTube showed what appeared to be the French hostages, including the four children, with two masked captors, who said they were members of Boko Haram.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the seven French nationals kidnapped in Cameroon last week are probably being held by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Video of French hostages released
Gunmen claiming to be from Nigerian Islamist group, Boko Haram, threaten to kill a French family if authorities fail to release their imprisoned comrades.
"We now have the information that the Boko Haram group is claiming to detain these hostages, probably in Nigeria," Mr Ayrault told journalists in a report carried by I-Tele today.
Authorities in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, have been battling an insurgency by Boko Haram that's killed hundreds of people since 2009. The group has carried out attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja, the capital. Nigeria's population of more than 160 million has a predominantly Christian south.
"The president of France knows he has waged a war on Islam, and we have fought him everywhere," one of the masked captors said in the video.
The hostages will be released only if Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan frees women linked to the group who have been captured by the authorities and if Cameroon President Paul Biya frees their imprisoned "brothers," one of the captors said.
"We tell you, implement all those things," one of the masked men said, warning the hostages would be killed if their demands weren't met.
France has about 4000 troops in Mali, where it intervened to fight Islamists and rebel forces to restore state control over a nation that vies with Tanzania as Africa's third-biggest gold producer.
The tourists were seized February 19 at the village of Dabanga, about 960 kilometres northeast of the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde.
Fighting between French special forces and Islamist militants is now in the "final phase" and France will start withdrawing troops in a few weeks, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said February 20.