World

Australian woman Jocelyn Elliott to be released by al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is "aware" of a video from a militant group that says it will release an Australian woman kidnapped in Burkina Faso in January.

Up Next

Morning wishes, afternoon smears

null
Video duration
01:28

More National News Videos

Australian woman held by al-Qaeda to be released

New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi discusses why al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb may have decided to release Jocelyn Elliott but not her husband Dr Ken Elliott. Vision courtesy ABC News 24.

The group has claimed responsibility for the January 15 kidnapping of two Australians in northern Burkina Faso, according to an audio statement.

Dr Ken Elliott and his wife Jocelyn were abducted following an attack on the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou that killed 28 people.

The statement, released on the Telegram channel of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, also said the group had decided to release one of the captives - a woman - 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.

Advertisement

In a brief statement a spokeswoman from DFAT said the government was "aware of a video being released in which a spokesperson claiming to represent al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) states that they currently hold two Australians hostage".

"We are in close contact with the family in what is a very difficult time, the safety and welfare of Dr and Mrs Elliott are our overriding concern," the statement read.

"The family has requested privacy and the government will not be providing further comment at this time."

In the recording, AQIM said it 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 Western Australian couple, aged in their 80s, moved to Burkina Faso in 1972 to set up a medical clinic in the town of Djibo in the country's north.

Dr Elliott performed 150 surgical operations a month in the Djibo hospital he designed and built, according to a 2013 Global Business Services newsletter.

He is the sole surgeon at the clinic and has spoken in the past about the significant need for modern medicine in the West Africa.

AAP, Reuters

Advertisement