France - Cameroon - Nigeria

French hostage family back in France

AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard

The French family held hostage by a Nigerian Islamist group arrived in Paris early Saturday morning, after being freed Thursday night. Tanguy and Albane Moulin-Fournier, their four children and Tanguy’s brother, Cyril, were greeted by French President François Hollande upon landing at Orly airport. Despite being kidnapped in northern Cameroon and held for two months by Boko Haram, they say they would return.

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“We will go back to Cameroon,” Moulin-Fournier said at the airport on Saturday. “It’s a beautiful country that we love.”

An employee of the French company GDF Suez, he had been living with his wife and children in Cameroon for two years when they were kidnapped on 19 February by armed men on motorbikes.

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After getting off the plane in Paris, Moulin-Fournier did not give any details about the detention conditions, only to say that the three adults and four children, aged five to 12 years old, were held in the same place.

“For 60 days we had a complete blackout, and it was only yesterday that I learned about the chain of solidarity in France,” he said.

“It’s wonderful to know that France can come together like this.”

He grew a thick beard and lost 14 kilograms during his two-month detention, but he and the rest of the family appear to be in good health.

Agnès Striffling, Albane Moulin-Fournier’s mother, thanked God and those who prayed for her family’s release.

“I would also like to thank those in the foreign ministry who worked with us. We followed their instructions, and it worked as we wanted,” she said.

The French government has so far not said how their release was secured, except to say that no ransom was paid and there was no military operation.

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Hollande, who met them at the airport, thanked the Cameroonian and Nigerian authorities.

“French authorities did their duty with discretion. And I would like to thank both Cameroon and Nigeria,” he said, specifically thanking Cameroon’s President Paul Biya.

Their ordeal won't not stop the Moulin-Fournier family from wanting to go back to Cameroon.

“The Moulin-Fournier love your country, I know it, they told me,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who travelled to Yaounde on Friday to accompany the hostages back to Paris, speaking to Biya.

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