7 French kidnapped in Cameroon, including 4 kids



Paris: A group of seven French citizens, including four children, have been kidnapped in Cameroon, an official close to the French president said on Tuesday.

The official requested anonymity because of presidential policy. Another French official close to the embassy in Cameroon said the group was believed to have been taken from northern Cameroon to Nigeria, where yesterday a little-known Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility for a separate abduction of seven foreigners.

The French official said the latest kidnapping involved four children and three adults. It was not immediately clear if the two attacks were related.

The French military is conducting operations with the Malian army to defeat Islamic fighters who took over that country's north in the weeks after a military coup there last year. The latest kidnappings have added to fears of instability and danger toward Westerners.

Before today, there were at least eight French citizens being held in the region, including at least one who was taken in Nigeria.

An analysis published yesterday by Stratfor, a US-based private global intelligence firm, suggested the group that claimed responsibility for the Nigeria kidnapping, Ansaru, had stronger ties with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Africa branch of the terror network.

It warned that there likely will be more attacks by Ansaru targeting Westerners and Western interests in Nigeria, as well as neighbouring nations.

PTI