An Al-Qaeda affiliated group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two Australians near Burkina Faso’s border with Mali on Jan. 15.
The two are Dr Ken Elliott and his wife, Jocelyn, who are in their 80s. The couple have lived in Djibo since 1972, where they operated a 120-bed clinic treating the local population.
In a purported audio message, Al-Mourabitoun, a branch of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group, said on Friday it had decided to release one of the captives who is a female unconditionally.
“The primary motive behind their kidnapping was an attempt to (gain) release of our captives who sit behind bars and suffer the pain of imprisonment, as well as being deprived of their basic rights,” the recording stated.
The recording further said that AQIM was releasing the woman under public pressure and in accordance with what it said was guidance from al Qaeda leaders not to involve women in war.
The couple was abducted when AQIM fighters raided a hotel and a restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou in an attack that killed at least 30 people most of whom were foreigners.
Australia said it was aware of the recording and the government remained in close contact with the Elliott family.