Militants holding French family make demands

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ISLAMIST militant group Boko Haram is apparently holding seven French nationals captured in Cameroon last week, France’s prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has said.

A video posted online yesterday shows one of two French men reading a statement, with a woman sat between them. Four children sit on the ground nearby, flanked by two masked militants wearing camouflage uniforms and holding rifles.

“We have been taken by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad,” the man says, referring to the name in Arabic of Boko Haram. “They want the liberation of their brothers in Cameroon and their women imprisoned in Nigeria.”

A masked militant in front says in the video that Boko Haram – a Nigerian group – kidnapped the French hostages, who were taken from Cameroon’s Far North Region last week.

The French gas group GDF Suez last week identified the captives as an employee working in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde and his family. They had been on holiday when they were kidnapped.

The man says the kidnappings came due to the French military intervention in northern Mali, where its troops have fought with Malian soldiers against Islamic extremists who took over the north in the months following a coup last year.

“Let the French president know that he has launched war against Islam and we are fighting him everywhere,” the militant says in Arabic. “Let him know that we are spread everywhere.”

The man also threatens to kill the French hostages if group’s demands are not met.