France denies kidnapped family freed

February 22, 2013 - 6:13:06 am

PARIS: France yesterday denied a claim that seven members of a French family kidnapped this week in northern Cameroon by suspected Islamists had been freed.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that it formally “denied the information that the French hostages had been released”.

Hopes for the seven members of the family — a couple, their children aged five, eight, 10 and 12 and an uncle — were raised when a Cameroonian military source said earlier that they had been found safe and well in Nigeria.

The source said they were found abandoned in a house in Dikwa in northern Nigeria, about 100km from the border with Cameroon. France’s Veteran Affairs Minister Kader Arif then confirmed that claim but later said he had merely passed on a media report. Cameroon’s Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary bluntly stated that it was “a wild rumour”. 

The family was snatched on Tuesday by six armed suspected Islamists on three motorbikes. Officials said they were taken across the border into Nigeria.