Talks secure release of French family of seven

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A FRENCH family of seven, including four children, have been released in Cameroon following secret talks, France said yesterday, ending two months of captivity in the hands of Nigerian Islamist militants.

Armed men on motorcycles snatched the family on 19 February while they were on holiday near the Waza national park in north Cameroon, about six miles from the Nigerian border.

“I spoke to the father this morning … He told me how happy and relieved he was,” French president François Hollande said at a news conference in Paris yesterday. “This is an immense relief. This will redouble our determination to free the hostages who remain.”

Eight French hostages are still being held by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant groups in the arid Sahel region of west Africa.

Mr Hollande said there had been contacts over the past few weeks to free the family under French terms and denied any money was paid for their release.

“France has not changed its position, which is not to pay ransoms,” he added.

The father of the kidnapped family, Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, worked in Cameroon for French utility firm GDF Suez. He was seized with his wife, four sons, and his brother, who was visiting them on holiday.

“It was physically and psychologically tough and there were some very low moments,” he said.