Nigerian troops surround French family's kidnappers: source

Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:46am EST
 
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By Tansa Musa and Ibrahim Mshelizza

YAOUNDE/MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian security forces surrounded the kidnappers of a French family in northeast Borno state on Thursday in an operation to rescue the hostages, a Nigerian military source said.

French, Nigerian and Cameroonian officials earlier denied French media reports that the family, who were seized in Cameroon and taken over the border, had been freed.

The Nigerian military located the hostages and kidnappers between Dikwa and Ngala in the far northeast, the military source in Borno said, asking not to be identified.

Dikwa is less than 80 km (50 miles) from the border with Cameroon where the three adults and four children were taken hostage on Tuesday.

A senior Cameroonian military official declined to comment saying the matter was too sensitive.

Citing a Cameroon army officer, French media reported earlier on Thursday that the hostages had been found alive in a house in northern Nigeria.

"This is a crazy rumor that we cannot confirm. We do not know where is it coming from," Cameroon Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told Reuters by telephone from the capital Yaounde.

"What is certain is that the French tourists who were abducted are no longer on our territory. However, we are in touch with the Government of Nigeria to intensify measures to continue the search for them along our common border," he said.   Continued...

 
French Minister for Veteran Affairs Kader Arif (C) speaks to members of a French military field hospital at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, December 25, 2012. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3BWBZ