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Abducted French tourists regain freedom

By The Citizen

The seven-member French family abducted by a gang of terrorists in Northern Cameroun have been released by the dreaded Islamic group.

The Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, confirmed the release of the Moulin-Fournier family to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Friday.

Also, the spokesman for the Joint Task Force in the North-East, Col. Sagir Musa, said he learnt that the tourists had been released. He did not give further details.

Curiously, both the DHQ and the JTF have not gone beyond the confirmation to take credit for the release of the French family.

But a security source said on Friday that the French family of seven, including four children, were released as a result of effective collaborative efforts between Nigerian security operatives and their French counterparts.

It was learnt that the family was released in the morning of Friday and were moved from Northern Cameroon to the capital Yaoundé. They are expected to be moved to France from there.

It was further learnt that force was not used in the release of the hostages abducted on February 19, 2013 at Waza National Park, in Dabanga, 10 kilometres from Nigeria's border with Northern Cameroon.

Our correspondents learnt that the French government  heaped much pressure on its Nigerian counterpart to ensure that the casualty figure was zero in the process to release the hostages.

The source said that while a deal 'must have been struck by the French government to release the hostages,' it was not certain whether money was involved or not.

Reuters quoted a relieved French President, Francois Hollande, as having said that no ransom was paid to release the hostages in line with the position of France on abduction.

The French president was also quoted as having said that the release of the hostages would encourage the French government to intensify efforts to release other hostages being held in West Africa.

Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, confirmed the release of the French hostages to one of our correspondents on the telephone.

Abati said the Nigerian High Commissioner to Cameroon, Hadiza Mustapha, had visited the freed hostages and had since reported back to the Presidency that they were in good health.

When asked to give details of their release, especially whether ransom was paid, the presidential spokesman said, 'I don't have the details, but what I know is that they have regained their freedom. That I can confirm.'