* French family in Cameroon after release
* Hollande says no ransom paid for hostages
* French ForMin Fabius expected in Cameroon
By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, April 19 A French family of seven,
including four children, have been released in Cameroon
following secret talks, France said on Friday, ending two months
of captivity in the hands of Nigerian Islamist militants.
Armed men on motorcycles snatched the family on Feb. 19
while they were on holiday near the Waza national park in north
Cameroon, some 10 km (six miles) from the Nigerian border.
"I spoke to the father this morning ... He told me how happy
and relieved he was," French President Francois Hollande said at
a news conference in Paris on Friday. "This is an immense
relief. This will redouble our determination to free the
hostages who remain."
Eight French hostages are still being held by al
Qaeda-linked Islamist militant groups in the arid Sahel region
of west Africa.
Hollande said there had been discrete contacts over the last
few weeks to free the family under French terms and denied any
money was paid for their release.
"France has not changed its position, which is not to pay
ransoms," he said.
The father of the kidnapped family, Tanguy Moulin-Fournier,
worked in Cameroon for French utility firm GDF Suez. He
was seized with his wife, four sons, and his brother, who was
visiting them on holiday.
"It was very long. It was very difficult. It was physically
and psychologically tough and there were some very low moments,"
Moulin-Fournier told France Inter radio. "We're very tired but
life will resume and life is stronger than everything else."
Both adult males of the family had thick beards while the
children looked drawn, and wore flip-flops, knee-length shorts
"We are very happy to be released. I want to thank
(Cameroon) President Paul Biya for making all the effort to
ensure our release," his tired-looking wife, Albane
Moulin-Fournier, said on Cameroonian television, holding her
Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, secretary-general of Cameroon's
presidency, said all family members were well.
State television showed the family descending from a plane
where they were greeted on the tarmac by the French ambassador
who took them to the embassy in the capital Yaounde.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was due to meet them
there, a French official said, and they would be repatriated to
France as soon as possible.
"I think I'll bring them (back to France) early tomorrow,"
Fabius said before boarding a flight to Cameroon on Friday.
The release of the hostages is a rare piece of good news for
Hollande's government, which is struggling to cut unemployment
and has been hit by a tax fraud scandal which has forced its
budget minister to resign.
Mostly Muslim northern Cameroon is considered an area within
the operational sphere of Islamist militants including Boko
Haram, Nigeria's biggest security threat.
Gunmen claiming to be from Boko Haram released videos of the
family in March, threatening to kill them unless Nigeria and
Cameroon released Muslim militants held in detention.
Cameroon denied it was holding any militants and it was
unclear if any of the group's demands had been met.