Australian missionaries snatched on day of Burkina Faso attack

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/21/16, 11:35 am

Australian missionary Ken Elliot and his wife Jocelyn served the poor in Burkina Faso’s Djibo town, until al-Qaeda terrorists kidnapped them from their home on Friday.

The abduction happened on the same day as the Ouagadougou attack that left at least 29 dead, including U.S. missionary Mike Riddering

The Elliots, now in their 80s, moved to Burkina Faso more than 40 years ago to care for people without access to healthcare. Together, they built and opened the Friends of Burkina Faso medical clinic. Ken Elliot performed as many as 150 surgeries a month. Locals called him the “doctor of the poor.”

Hamadou Ag Khallini, a spokesperson for Mali-based militant group Ansar Dine, said the al-Qaeda-linked Emirate of the Sahara group is responsible for snatching the Elliots. Local authorities aren’t sure whether the kidnapping is connected to the Ouagadougou attack.

On Jan. 18, Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, delivered a televised address, during which he referred to the kidnapped couple. Kabore claimed local authorities are working to find them.

“A full alert has been issued to the defense and security forces in the area to find them and catch the kidnappers,” Kabore said.

But Nina Shea of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom believes more needs to be done to find the couple and combat Islamic extremism.

“A small country cannot fight this alone,” she said. “There has to be international coordination or this is going to take root.”

Residents of Djibo responded to the attack by opening a Facebook page—‘Djibo soutient Dr. Ken Elliot’—to share their support for the Elliots and stay updated on the case.

“We pray for their safety and deliverance daily,” supporter Grace Knight posted.

On Jan. 18, more than 100 students from Djibo provincial high school organized a demonstration to show solidarity with the couple, holding signs that said “Libere Eliote,” Free Elliot.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a statement on behalf of the Elliots’ children, who said they were inspired by the support from the local people “who clearly consider Ken and Jocelyn to be one of their own after all these years of providing surgical services to the region.”

In line with their parents’ missional spirit, the children asked that the couple be released “so that they may continue to assist those who are in need of their services.”

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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