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France says it will not negotiate with gunmen who took a family of seven hostage last week, despite threats to kill the three adults and four children.
The family were seized in the north of Cameroon, near Nigeria’s border, by a group claiming to be from Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.
In a video posted online, the captors say the family will be killed unless Muslim militants detained in Nigeria and Cameroon are released.
The video shows the family, including four young boys, surrounded by guards in camouflage gear and against the backdrop of a black flag.
One of the hostages reads out: “We have been taken by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad. They want the liberation of their brothers in Cameroon and their women imprisoned in Nigeria.”
Read International Editor Lindsey Hilsum on: Cameroon kidnappings: a widening al-Qaeda linked war?
Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad is the official name of Boko Haram, and means ‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio he deplored the fact that children were involved, but said that the French government would not negotiate with terrorists.
“We do not negotiate on that kind of basis, with these kind of groups,” he said. “We will use all possible means to ensure that these and other hostages are freed.
“We do not play this bidding game because that’s terrorism.”