Islamic extremists release one missionary taken from Burkina Faso
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/08/16, 10:50 am
Islamic militants have freed the wife of an Australian missionary kidnapped from northern Burkina Faso, but they continue to hold her husband hostage.
The extremist group released Jocelyn Elliot on Sunday, in neighboring Niger. The country’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, worked with Burkina Faso intelligence services to ensure her release, said presidential spokesman Abdourahmane Alilou, spokesperson.
In an audio statement broadcast on Friday, AQIM said it freed Jocelyn Elliot to keep women out of the war.
“It is our religious duty to respect the civilians, based on the Prophet’s Hadith on not harming women, the elderly, and the children, and based on the guidance by our commanders,” the statement said.
The Elliots’ children said they hope the moral principles that led to their mother’s release also will lead to the release of their elderly father.
The Elliots, both now in their 80s, moved to Djibo, 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.”
Residents of Djibo responded to the kidnapping by starting a Facebook page to share their support for the missionaries and stay updated on the case.
“I would like to thank the Burkinabe people for their support during my absence,” Jocelyn told local journalists after returning to Ouagadougou. “I would like to reunite with my husband soon so that we can return to Djibo and continue the work that we do there.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would continue working with regional authorities to ensure Ken Elliot’s safe release.
“We’re dealing with a difficult diplomatic situation and the Burkina Faso government is working very well on it, and we’ll continue to stay in touch with them,” he said.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb also claimed responsibility for kidnapping Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly in January. The extremist group has released a video of Stockly and demanded the release of its imprisoned militants in exchange for her return.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.