A French man abducted with his family last month in Cameroon has spoken in a recording reportedly made by Boko Haram Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda and obtained by AFP on Monday.
The recording was distributed to reporters in Nigeria’s north by purported intermediaries of the Boko Haram group.
A source close to the family confirmed to AFP that the voice on the recording was that of Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, who was kidnapped with his wife, four children and brother while vacationing in northern Cameroon.
“It is indeed Tanguy Moulin-Fournier,” the man said on condition of anonymity.
The audio recording obtained by AFP was said to have been taken from a video.
In it, the man identifies himself as Moulin-Fournier and reads a statement in French and English, pleading with “our ambassador in Nigeria” to work to free them and detailing the family of seven’s kidnapping in Cameroon.
“I have been arrested 25 days ago, with my wife, my four kids, the latest of one being four years old, and my brother who came from Europe, by an armed commando of Jamaatu Ahlisunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad,” he says in English after his French statement.
Jamaatu Ahlisunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad is what Boko Haram has said it wants to be called.
“We have been detained since 25 days in a desert place. Living conditions are very hard,” he adds in the recording.
Moulin-Fournier also repeats previous Boko Haram demands for the release of prisoners in Cameroon and Nigeria.
The extremist group has demanded the release of wives and children of members supposedly arrested in Nigeria as well as members of the group they claim have been detained in Cameroon.
The father later speaks in another statement which seems to be addressed to Cameroon President Paul Biya and asks him to free Boko Haram prisoners.
“They will liberate us if you liberate their men who have been arrested in Cameroon …,” he says.
“They don’t want to enter in conflict with Cameroon, however, if you arrest again their (members) in Cameroon, they will multiply the kidnap operations and suicide operations in Cameroon more than in Nigeria.”
The suspected leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, purportedly speaks on the recording as well, both in the Hausa language common throughout Nigeria’s north and in Arabic. It cannot be determined from the audio if the man identified as Shekau and the family are in the same location.
“We are the ones that Allah put your French brethren in our hands, these seven Europeans, including a woman and children,” he says. “They are in our custody, by the power of Allah.”
The family were on holiday in the region around Cameroon’s Waza National Park when they were kidnapped.
Cameroon has said the victims were taken over the border into restive northeastern Nigeria after their abduction, though their precise whereabouts are unknown.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Saturday focused on efforts to free the family. He had visited Cameroon the previous day.
Another Frenchman was also kidnapped in northern Nigeria — which has seen years of violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency — in December and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Last week, Britain, Italy and Greece said that a claim by a splinter faction of the group — Ansaru — that it had killed seven foreign hostages abducted from a construction site in Nigeria appeared to be true.