The leading BBC article on Africa this weekend tells of the release of a French family of seven (3 adults, 4 children) who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram in northern Cameroon two months ago.
Despite recent claims by a former US ambassador to Mali and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Vicki Huddleston, that France has paid almost $100 million in ransoms to secure the release of its citizens held hostage in the Sahel, France denies paying a ransom to Boko Haram to secure the release of the Moulin – Fournier family.
The French Foreign Minister, in a not particularly useful statement following the release of the hostages apparently stated that the Moulin – Fournier’s were released in an area ‘between’ Nigeria and Cameroon.
Even before the recent raid on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria that resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages and much criticism of the Algerian government, France lost several of its nationals during its own failed rescue attempts in Mali and Niger. The crisis in the Sahel must be straining relations between the US and France, the question is to what extent. The unilateral intervention in Mali, the decision of the US to establish a drone base in Niger where French influence has traditionally held sway, and the ransom issue are all possible issues of antagonism.
If it wasn’t money, anyone out there have any idea what sort of benevolence may have motivated Boko Haram to release the hostages?