Last Tuesday on the 19th of February, a French family vacationing in Northern Cameroon was kidnapped at gunpoint by the Nigerian-based Islamist group, Boko Haram. The family was spending time at the Waza National Park, a popular tourist destination, when five armed men armed with AK-47s kidnapped the victims from the town of Dadanga and drove them across the border into Nigeria.
The victims include the father, Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, his wife Albane, and their four young boys who have been living in Cameroon’s capital of Yaoundé since 2011. The seventh man, Cyril Moulin-Fournier, is the brother of Tanguy and uncle to the four children. The kidnapping of the Moulin-Fournier family marks 15 French Nationals being held hostage by Islamic groups throughout Africa, seven of whom are believed to be held captive in Northern Mali.
One day following the kidnappings, French special operations forces stationed in nearby N’Djamena, Chad, were deployed to Cameroon to assist in the possible recovery effort. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has already declared that France will not be giving into any terrorist demands which would include a possible ransom in exchange for the family, leaving only one course of action on the table: a hostage rescue operation in Nigeria.
A similar operation was undertaken last year in Nigeria by the British Special Boat Service (SBS) that ended with the two hostages killed at the hands of their Boko Haram captors. It is still unclear what French unit is involved but the men most likely are part of Opération Épervier (Operation Sparrowhawk) and EUFOR Chad/CAR , the European Union’s mission to Chad and the Central African Republic which is home to almost 2,000 French military personnel.
Following the kidnapping, Boko Haram militants released a three-minute video of the hostages in which they demand that the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon release all Boko Haram prisoners in exchange for the lives of the seven hostages. You can watch the video below (no disturbing or graphic images) and it appears that the family has not been abused in any way.
“The French president has chosen to go to war with Islam, and we are going to go to war with him.”
While Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan; “We are ready to go to war and we will win … glory will be ours.”
“If you do not meet all of our demands, and I say all of our demands without exception, we will be forced to execute the hostages. Yes, you have understood correctly, we will kill the hostages.”
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