Yaounde (Cameroon): Kidnappers in Cameroon have taken seven French tourists across the border into neighbouring Nigeria after seizing them, the Cameroon government said.

"The kidnappers have gone across the border into Nigeria with their hostages," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement aired on state television and radio.

Suspected Islamist militants kidnapped the French holidaymakers from one family, including four children, in Cameroon on Tuesday.

The original kidnapping took place at Sabongari, seven kilometers from the northern village of Dabanga near the Nigerian border, the Foreign Ministry said.

GDF Suez confirmed that one of its employees had been kidnapped with his family.

French President Francois Hollande said during a visit to Athens that he was informed of the kidnapping by a Nigerian "terrorist group that we know well", without naming it.

France was doing everything possible to prevent the kidnappers moving their victims to Nigeria, he said at the time.

A statement from GDF Suez said the employee was based in the Cameroon capital Yaounde and that the family was holidaying in the north of the West African country.

A Western diplomat in the region told six armed kidnappers on three motorbikes had abducted a couple, their four children and an uncle.

The children are aged five, eight, 10 and 12, the diplomat said.

A source close to the French embassy in Yaounde said the family had earlier visited Waza National Park in northern Cameroon.

Asked whether the kidnapping could be a reprisal for France's military offensive against Al-Qaeda-linked groups in northern Mali, Hollande spoke of Nigeria's Islamist Boko Haram group.

"I note in particular the presence of a terrorist group, namely Boko Haram, in that part of Cameroon, and that's worrying enough," he said.

A Cameroonian security source also said, "We have strong suspicions regarding the Islamist sect Boko Haram," which is blamed for killing hundreds of people in an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009.

Some Boko Haram members are believed to have trained with militants of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Mali.

Though it is the first abduction of Western tourists on Cameroonian soil, there have been several hostage-takings off the coast, a region believed to be rich in oil and gas.


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