Seven members of a French family kidnapped by a Nigerian militant group have been handed over to Cameroon government today, all unhurt and in good health.
The family kidnapped on 19 February in the Waza national park of Far North Cameroon – included a worker of GDF Suez, his wife, four children and an uncle – was on a safari trip.
In a recorded message passed on to French radio, Radio France Internationale, RFI, a month later, the head of the kidnapped French family has pleaded to Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to negotiate for their release, especially that of the four children said to be living under unbearable conditions.
According to the radio message, a man believed to be the family head or father, Tanguy Moulin-Fournier pleaded directly to President Biya to let go the men arrested in Cameroon so that they could also be set free.
A French authority had openly declared earlier that the French government would not pay any ransom to the militants in exchange for their release.
A counter-release posted online disclosed the militants’ rejection to any offer to talk with the French, which they said were enemies of Islam, leaving only Cameroon to initiate any probable deal.
With the will, but no skilled manpower or means to approach the militants, Cameroon government had no choice but to dig deep to rescue the hostage without any loss of life or casualties.
Cameroon had the challenge
At the time when the French government was overburdened by the operation in north Mali, while also trying to rescue its citizens taken hostage by various Islamic groups or runaway jihadists from the Middle East, any French ally who had offered a helping hand would obviously had be welcomed.
Biya was put under pressure to negotiate a deal or lead any operation for the release, first to keep his Franco-Cameroon relationship intact and secondly to save his face in front of other African countries.
As a sovereign state, the government of Cameroon equally needed to act promptly to defend its territory, its citizens as well as national interest and pride.
The French community in Cameroon is quite huge, and for them to feel secure and at home, Biya’s government had to prove to them that they can rely on them for safety, starting with the rescue of the French family with very young children.
How the family was released or whether any ransom was offered is of no importance, but the job that all seven were freed in good health.