France says its approach is "determined and discrete" to safeguard lives of Nigeria hostages

France's foreign minister says his nation needs to be "determined and discrete" in trying to save the lives of his country's citizens who have been kidnapped by extremist groups from Nigeria.

Laurent Fabius said Saturday that it was important to free the hostages, which include a child younger than five.

Fabius said in French: "So it is in the name of humanity that they need to be freed both quickly and well."

Fabius spoke at the international airport in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, after a closed-door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.

French hostages now presumed held by Nigerian extremists include a family kidnapped from northern Cameroon, as well as an engineer working on a renewable energy project in the country's predominantly Muslim north.