French hostage family released in Cameroon

France said on Friday that seven members of a French family who were kidnapped in Cameroon in February had been released and were in good health.

The president's office said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had immediately left for Cameroon to greet the family, which includes four young children.

"They are all healthy and have gone back to Yaounde (Cameroon capital)," it said, shortly after Cameroonian President Paul Biya announced that the family had been "handed over last night" to authorities in the country.

"I spoke to the family on the phone. They are extremely happy and in good shape," Fabius told AFP, adding the hostages were freed overnight on Thursday to Friday "in an area between Nigeria and Cameroon."

The family -- a couple, their children aged five, eight, 10 and 12 and an uncle -- were snatched near a national park in Cameroon by six gunmen on February 19 and taken into neighbouring Nigeria.

They were held there by Islamist sect Boko Haram -- which is blamed for killing hundreds of people in an insurgency in northern Nigeria since 2009 -- just as France was engaged in a military offensive against Islamists in Mali.

A person close to the released family, who refused to be named, burst out in joy on the phone to AFP.

"They're free, they're free at last! It's amazing, after two months of never-ending waiting," the person said.

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