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YAOUNDE/PARIS/ATHENS - The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram was likely behind the kidnapping of seven French expatriates in Cameroon, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.
The three adults and four children were kidnapped early Tuesday in northern Cameroon, close to the border with Nigeria.
This proximity allowed the French authorities “to say that it is probably the Boko Haram sect,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris.
He added that France was in contact with Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities and was doing “the maximum with discretion and determination.”
Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Greece, President Francois Hollande said the captives were all members of the same family.
The were based in Cameroon's capital Yaounde, working for “a large energy company,” bfm television quoted Hollande as saying.
“They were (in Cameroon) for professional reasons, but they were on a trourist trip” to the north of the country, he said.
The French ambassador in Yaounde, Bruno Gain, said that “no ransom had been asked for.”
The group was kidnapped from Dadanga village less than 10
kilometres from the Nigerian border, according to French radio RFI, and taken in the direction of Nigeria.
They were likely returning from a trip to Cameroon's Waza National Park, RFI reported. The park is about 240 kilometres to the east of Maiduguri in Nigeria's north, a stronhold of the extremist group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has waged an insurgency against Western lifestyles and wants to impose Islamic law in Nigeria. They are believed responsible for the killing of more than 1,400 people since 2009.
An offshoot of the group, called Ansaru, claimed responsibility for taking seven workers from a construction company's offices in north-eastern Nigeria at the weekend. The same group also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Frenchman in Nigeria last December, near the Niger border.
The reported attack comes in the second month of France's military intervention against Islamist insurgents in Mali. - Sapa-dpa