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Africa

Fabius: ‘discretion and determination’ to release kidnapped nationals

media French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with Cameroon President Paul Biya on 15 March 2013 AFP PHOTO/STR

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius reassured the French community in Yaoundé on Saturday that "discretion and determination" were being exercised to find the family of seven French nationals kidnapped in northern Cameroon last month.

The family including four children aged between five and 12 years-old was taken by individuals claiming to be part of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram on 19 February.

"All our efforts need to be put in to seeing the release of our compatriots," Fabius told a press conference at the French Ambassador’s residence in Yaoundé on Saturday. "In this type of situation you need to have determination and discretion, that’s the tactic we follow."

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Local members of the French community met with Fabius during his visit but weren’t told of the specific steps being taken to locate and release the family.

"I reiterate our hope that they will be released very soon for basic humane reasons," the French Minister said on Saturday before travelling to Nigeria to meet with authorities to discuss the case. "That’s the number one objective."

Fabius arrived in Cameroon on Friday to meet with President Paul Biya.

"We obviously talked about the situation of our compatriots but I want to remain discreet. We must bear in mind that among seven people kidnapped there are four children, the youngest aged less than five years."

During Fabius’ visit hundreds of local French nationals some of whom are friends of the hostages, expressed their concerns.

"All the attention is focused on the fate of our friends," said one. "We’re really worried about them and we hope their mental wellbeing is strong."

Last month a video of the seven French nationals was uploaded on Youtube. A male member of the French family read a short statement into camera before a second man, claiming to be one of the kidnappers made hostage demands.

It is believed jihadist group Boko Haram seized the party in retaliation for France's military intervention in Mali.
 

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