French family home after hostage ordeal

2013-04-20 08:22
Former French hostages Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, second right, his wife, second left, his brother Cyril, left, and their unidentified children prepare to leave Yaounde, Cameroon. (Reinnier Kaze/ AP)

Former French hostages Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, second right, his wife, second left, his brother Cyril, left, and their unidentified children prepare to leave Yaounde, Cameroon. (Reinnier Kaze/ AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - French President Francois Hollande welcomed a family of seven back to France early on Saturday as they flew into Paris after two months in the hands of Nigeria's Islamist militants.

The Moulin-Fournier family, which includes four boys aged between five and 12, flew in from Cameroon on a French government Falcon jet with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Blankets draped over their shoulders against the early-morning chill and smiling broadly, they stepped off the plane and into the arms of relatives before retiring to the airport's VIP pavilion.

"It's over, we made it," Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the father, said. "I am very happy to be back in France."

The French president declared: "Today, life has won."

"France, as a family, is relieved and happy," Hollande said. "We are overcome with joy."

No ransom paid

The former hostages took off from the Cameroonian capital Yaounde late on Friday, having earlier met President Paul Biya.

The French government has not so far shed any light on how their release was secured - except to say that no ransom was paid and there was no military operation to free them.

"The French authorities carried out their duty discreetly," Hollande said at the airport, thanking Cameroon and Nigeria for their help in resolving the crisis "with a special thought for Paul Biya... who played an important role these past few days."

Tanguy and Albane Moulin-Fournier, their four children and Tanguy's brother, Cyril, were kidnapped in Cameroon on 19 February and taken to neighbouring Nigeria.

Their captors were the Boko Haram group, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist sect blamed for a string of deadly attacks since 2009 in an insurgency in northern Nigeria.

But on Thursday night, in a surprise development, they were handed over to the Cameroonian authorities, thinner and exhausted but otherwise in good health.

Psychological effects

"We are all very tired but normal life will now resume," Tanguy said in the capital Yaounde. "The conditions in which we were held were very difficult. It was extremely hot. But we did not have any serious problems.

"We are alive and we are infinitely happy to be free.

"It has been very long and difficult, it was hard psychologically and we had some very low moments. But we stuck together and that was crucial. As a family, we kept up each other's spirits."

Fabius said they had been freed overnight "in an area between Nigeria and Cameroon".

Hollande has insisted that France had paid no ransom and his aides said the liberation of the hostages had not involved the use of force.

He thanked the Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities for their help in the affair.

Others being held

The family's abduction occurred as France was deploying thousands of troops to fight Islamic extremists in Mali, another former French colony in the region.

At least seven other French citizens are being held hostage by various militants in the Sahel region south of the Sahara.

The Moulin-Fournier family were visiting the Waza National Park in northern Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, when they were kidnapped.

Tanguy Moulin-Fournier worked for the French gas group GDF Suez in Yaounde. He and his wife, and their four sons, Eloi, Andeol, Mael and Clarence, had been based there since 2011. Cyril Moulin-Fournier was visiting from Barcelona.

Boko Haram has in the past called for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, where corruption is deeply rooted and most of the population lives on less than $2 per day despite vast oil reserves.

The Boko Haram insurgency is estimated to have left more than 3 000 people dead since 2009, including many killed in operations by the security services.

The group is believed to be made up of many different factions, some of them hardcore Islamists who would resist any concessions to Nigeria's secular government.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  francois hollande  |  paul biya  |  france  |  cameroon  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  abductions
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    ACCIDENT after Jan Smuts Drive
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.