Yaounde - Military helicopters are searching for a
vacationing French family of seven kidnapped in Cameroon and security around
the region is being increased amid tensions over France's role in western
Cameroonian President Paul Biya ordered tight security
measures and urgent steps to free the hostages, who include four children.
They were kidnapped by armed gunmen in the country's far
north on Tuesday and whisked across the nearby border to Nigeria. A ministry
statement said the Cameroonian government is in contact with Nigerian and
Officials suggested the involvement of Boko Haram, one of
Nigeria's Islamic extremist sects.
The kidnapping came as thousands of French troops are deeply
involved in a military intervention against Islamist extremists who had taken
control of a big part of the West African country of Mali.
France's defense minister said Wednesday that there was no
proven link between the French operation in Mali and the Cameroon kidnapping.
But, speaking on
France-2 television, Jean-Yves Le Drian said: "These are groups who adhere
to the same fundamentalism and who have the same methods, whether it is in
Mali, in Somalia or in Nigeria, who want to create a lawless zone"
stretching from the Atlantic across the southern edge of the Sahara to Sudan.
Abducted at gunpoint
France's government warned French citizens to avoid travel
in northern Cameroon after the kidnapping and urged anyone currently there to
A Cameroonian government official said military helicopters
were being used in the search.
The French gas group GDF Suez identified the captives as an
employee working in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde and his family. French
media says the children are between 5 and 12 years old.
Cameroon state television cited government sources in the
locality saying that the three adults have been separated from the four
The family was on tour at the Waza National Park in
Cameroon's Far-North Region before they were abducted at gunpoint by five
gunmen aboard motorbikes, according to paramilitary sources in the area.
A Cameroon government statement late Tuesday night said the
hostages were abducted at Sabongari, 7km from Dabanga, which
flanks Cameroon's frontier with Nigeria. The statement did not say whether the
Cameroon government is in contact with the kidnappers.