An elderly Australian woman who was kidnapped with her husband by an al Qaeda affiliated group has been freed.
Jocelyn Elliott and her husband were kidnapped in Burkina Faso on January 15.
President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou presented the woman at a news conference in Dosso, in southwestern Niger on Saturday and said efforts were being made to secure the release of her husband, Dr. Ken Elliott.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said on Friday that it would release the woman unconditionally due to public pressure and guidance from al Qaeda leaders not to involve women in war.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has thanked the governments of Niger and Burkina Faso for their assistance and confirmed that his government had spoken with Jocelyn Elliott following her release.
“We want to thank the government of Niger and the government of Burkina Faso, where of course is where the Elliotts were living when they were kidnapped. I want to thank them for the work that they’re doing and we again prefer to say very little about this case publicly other than to say that we obviously continue to cooperate with those governments and we thank them for their efforts” Prime Minister Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
He added that “our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been closely on top of this situation, has been speaking with the Elliott’s family in Australia, spoke to Mrs Elliott just a little while ago”.
The Elliotts in their 80s, moved to Burkina Faso in 1972 to set up a clinic in Djibo near the country’s border with Mali.
They were abducted from the town the same day al Qaeda fighters raided a restaurant and hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, and killed 30 people, many of whom were foreigners.