Published February 19, 2013
PARIS – President Francois Hollande has confirmed that a French family of seven -- three adults and four children -- have been kidnapped in northern Cameroon.
Hollande indirectly suggested that the Boko Haram group may have had a role in the Tuesday kidnapping. French Minister Laurent Fabius said it "probably was this sect Boko Haram."
Details of the kidnapping were not immediately clear.
Hollande, speaking during a visit to Greece, warned French citizens in the region "to avoid exposing themselves."
A French official close to the embassy in Cameroon said the group was believed to have been taken from northern Cameroon to Nigeria, where on Monday a little-known extremist group claimed responsibility for a separate abduction of seven foreigners.
The French military is conducting operations with the Malian army to defeat Islamic fighters who took over that country's north in the weeks after a military coup there last year. The latest kidnappings have added to fears of instability and danger toward Westerners. Before Tuesday, there were at least eight French citizens being held in the region, including at least one who was taken in Nigeria.
An analysis published Monday by Stratfor, a U.S.-based private global intelligence firm, suggested the group that claimed responsibility for the Nigeria kidnapping, Ansaru, had stronger ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the Africa branch of the terror network.
It warned that there likely will be more attacks by Ansaru targeting Westerners and Western interests in Nigeria, as well as neighboring nations.