From the Times of Nigeria and the Telegraph
A video posted online Monday apparently shows seven French hostages kidnapped from northern Cameroon, with a masked militant claiming the radical Islamic group Boko Haram from neighboring Nigeria holds them.
The video, posted to YouTube and mentioned on a jihadist website, shows one of two French men reading a statement, with a woman in between them. Four children sit on the ground near them, flanked by two masked militants wearing camouflage uniforms and holding rifles.
A masked militant in front says in the video that Boko Haram kidnapped the French hostages, a family of three adults and four children who were taken from outside a national park in Cameroon's Far North Region on Feb. 19. A black banner in the background, bearing the images of the Quran flanked by two Kalashnikov assault rifles, also resembles a symbol previously used by Boko Haram.
The man says the kidnappings came due to the French military intervention in northern Mali, where its troops have fought with Malian soldiers against Islamic extremists who took over the north in the months following a coup last year. The man also threatens the Nigerian and Cameroonian government, calling on them to release their imprisoned members.
The hostages were later identified as Tanguy Moulin-Fournier and his wife Albane, as well as their four sons, Eloi, Andeol, Mael and Clarence. The boys have interesting names. St Andeol worked with St Polycarp to evangelise ancient Gaul. St Mael was a Breton who went to Wales and later became a hermit. Tanguy's brother Cyril Moulin-Fournier was on vacation and with them at the time. The three adults are all around 40 years old.
A total of 15 French citizens are currently being held in western Africa. In addition to the seven kidnapped in Cameroon, there is one other in Nigeria and seven thought to be in northern Mali
The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the video's authenticity Monday, though it shares similarities with some Boko Haram propaganda videos published in the past.
However, in this video, the man speaks entirely in Arabic, while other Boko Haram videos have its leader Abubakar Shekau also speaking the Hausa language of Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north. Boko Haram has not published a video featuring hostages before. The video appears to have been filmed outside, as prayer mats hung in the background sway in a breeze.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement that "for us, these images are horribly shocking. They show cruelty without limits." He said France is fully mobilized to free the hostages but "verifications needed in these circumstances" are under way.