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February 26, 2013

France Rules Out Talks with Hostage Takers

France says it will not negotiate with the kidnappers who seized seven French nationals last week in Cameroon.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday that France will use "all possible means" to ensure the release of its hostages, but will not play a "bidding game."

He spoke a day after a video appeared on YouTube showing a gunman, speaking in Arabic, warning that a group of hostages will be killed unless Islamist militants are released in Cameroon and Nigeria.

The video shows two men, a woman and four children sitting in a small tent surrounded by masked men. One of the French men says the group was abducted by the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram.

France says the seven nationals, all members of the same family, were kidnapped last week while on vacation in Cameroon and were probably taken to neighboring Nigeria.

Officials blame the abduction on Boko Haram. However, the French Foreign Ministry said Monday that it does not confirm Boko Haram was involved with the video.

A different Nigerian militant group, known as Ansaru, claimed responsibility for kidnapping a French national in Nigeria in December and seven foreigners from a construction site in northern Nigeria February 18.

Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths in scores of bombing and shooting attacks, mostly in northern Nigeria, since it launched an uprising in 2009.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.