OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — An Australian woman who was freed by her al-Qaida captors after several weeks landed in Burkina Faso’s capital early Monday, as family members urged the militants to grant similar mercy to her husband who remained a hostage.
Jocelyn Elliott had been released over the weekend in neighboring Niger after the jihadists said they did not want “to make women involved in the war.” Niger’s president had worked with intelligence services in Burkina Faso to secure her release, officials said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters on Sunday that she had spoken with Elliott and said she was doing well.
“She was relieved and she was very tired,” Bishop said. “Our overriding concern now is for her husband, Dr. Kenneth Elliott.”
Both are in their 80s.
Jocelyn Elliott was expected to meet with Burkina Faso’s president after arriving in Ouagadougou on Monday. She and her husband have run a medical clinic for four decades in the West African country.
“We are trusting that the moral and guiding principles of those who have released our mother will also be applied to our elderly father who has served the community of Djibo and the Sahel for more than half his lifetime,” the Elliott family said in a statement carried by Australian media Sunday.
The militant group behind the kidnapping, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, rose to prominence in large part through kidnap-for-ransom operations targeting foreign aid workers and tourists.
In recent months, the group has grabbed headlines with claims of responsibility for high-profile strikes in West Africa, killing 20 people in an attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital in November and 30 people in an attack in Burkina Faso’s capital the same day the Elliotts were kidnapped.
Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.
BRAHIMA OUEDRAOGO, Associated Press
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