A French family of seven, including four children, was kidnapped on Tuesday in Cameroon while they were vacationing in the area in West Africa. Officials suggest that the kidnappers involved are a part of one of Nigeria’s Islamic extremist sects and possibly as retaliation to France’s actions in Mali. Here’s what you need to know about the French family kidnapping in Cameroon.
1. A French Family of Seven, Including Four Children, Was Kidnapped in Cameroon
Three adults and four children were kidnapped while vacationing in Cameroon on Tuesday. The International Business Times reports that the family consisted of a couple and their four children, aged 5, 8, 10 and 12, as well as an uncle.
2. One of the Captives is an Employee of GDF Suez
One of the captives is an employee of the French electric utility company GDF Suez. The company confirmed that one of its employees was working in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde and was kidnapped while of vacation with his family.
3. The Family Was Visiting Waza Park
The family was visiting the Waza National Park in the far north region of Cameroon when they were picked up by the kidnappers. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the park attracts many foreign tourists, but often suffers from raids by terrorist groups in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
4. Officials Suggests the Involvement of Nigeria’s Islamic Extremest Sects
French President Francois Hollande confirmed that the family had been abducted in Cameroon and indirectly suggested that the Boko Haram group was involved in the kidnapping. The Boko Haram is a jihadist militant group based in Nigeria that strongly opposes man-made laws and modern science. The group has been responsible for between 3,000 and 10,000 deaths since its founding in 2001.
5. Six Armed Men Rode Off With the Family Toward Nigeria
Six armed men riding motorbikes apparently came upon the French family stuck in the sand at the national park and forced them to leave their car at gunpoint. The hostages were taken away on the bikes toward the border and into Nigeria, just four miles away.
6. A Crowd of People Watched
A Cameroonian trader said that a group of people watched as the family was taken hostage.
“Nobody could help the white men because the kidnappers were heavily armed and they threatened to shoot anyone that approached,” the trader said.
7. The Cameroon Military is Searching the Area with Helicopters
“As I speak to you right now, helicopters are flying over the entire province, and specifically in the administrative area of Waza, in search of the kidnapped tourists,” the Far North Regional Delegate in the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, Jean-David Ndjigba said.
8. 15 French Citizens Are Being Held in Western Africa
Eight other French citizens are being held in western Africa. Seven are thought to be in Mali and one other in Nigeria. The addition of the family makes a total of 15 French captives.
9. The Kidnapping Could be in Retaliation to France’s Actions in Mali
Just last month, France sent forces into Mali to help push out jihadists who have taken control of the north. However, Cameroon officials say there is not enough information to link the kidnapping to Mali.
10. French Citizens in West Africa Have Been Warned About the Dangers
Speaking during a visit to Greece, Hollande warned French citizens in the area to “avoid exposing themselves.” Warnings have also been issues that there will likely be more attacks.