This Day (Lagos)

26 February 2013

Nigeria: Boko Haram Demands Trade-Off for French Nationals

This video shows an armed man reading a statement in front of two men, a woman and four children, saying the family has been taken hostage. ( Resource: French Family Kidnapped by Islamic Militants in Cameroon

Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the abduction of the seven members of a French family kidnapped in Cameroun last week, Monday turned the pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan as security agents continued manhunt for the abductors with the aim of rescuing their victims.

The kidnappers, for the first time since the vacationing French family was abducted in northern Cameroun, gave conditions for the release of the victims. A video appeared on YouTube yesterday, showing the seven kidnapped members of the French family with their abductors, who claimed to be from Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram. The kidnappers demanded the release of the Islamic sect's members and relatives in government custody as a precondition for freeing the French family members.

The kidnappers, according to a report by AFP, claiming to be from Boko Haram, said they carried out the abduction partly due to France's "war against Islam," apparently a reference to French military action in Mali.

The more than three-minute video shows the family, including four children, held in an undisclosed location, surrounded by at least three of the abductors whose faces are hidden. It was not clear when the video was made.

"If you want us to release these French citizens, quickly release all our women you are detaining," one of the abductors said in Arabic, addressing President Jonathan.

He also called on Cameroun to release "our brothers".

At the start of the video, the father of the family read a statement from a piece of paper, his four children in front of him, his wife and brother beside him.

Two of the abductors hold weapons and ammunition, while a banner with two rifles hangs behind them.

The family, with the children aged 5 to 12, were kidnapped in Cameroun while visiting a national park.

Cameroun authorities said the family was taken over the border into the North-east, which is the epicentre of Boko Haram's insurgency.

Despite claims in the video, it was not immediately clear if the abductors were from Boko Haram, which has carried out a violent insurgency for years in the North but has never before claimed a kidnapping.

Most previous Boko Haram videos have featured suspected leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, speaking in the Hausa language.

Meanwhile, the umbrella body for the Southern Kaduna people, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), yesterday urged the Kaduna State House of Assembly to speed up the passage of a bill on the establishment of neighbourhood watch to enable communities in the southern part of the state protect themselves from frequent attacks by terrorists.

The union also called on the state government to ensure that last Sunday's attack on Aduwan village in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area by unknown gunmen would not recur as the people are ready to defend themselves.

SOKAPU President, Dr. Ephraim Goje, said at a news conference in Kaduna yesterday that the government must do everything possible to halt the persistent attacks on the peaceful communities in the southern part of the state.

According to him, those who attacked Aduwan village, in which five persons, were killed were dressed in military uniform and armed with sophisticated weapons.

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InFocus

Nigeria: Kidnappers Post Video of Family

A video posted online has apparently showed seven French hostages kidnapped from northern Cameroon, with a masked militant claiming to be a member of Boko Haram. Read more »