After being freed, an 88-year old Australian doctor who was held captive in Africa by militants linked to al Qaeda for over seven years has been reunited his family.
Dr Ken Elliott, his wife Jocelyn and their medical clinic in Burkina Faso were kidnapped by al Qaeda’s African affiliate, AQIM, in 2016.
Three weeks later, Mrs Elliott was freed following a joint operation by the intelligence service of Burkina Faso and Mahamadou Issoufou, then president Niger.
Penny Wong, the Australian HTML1 HTML0 HTML0 HTML?
She said, “I am very happy to inform that Dr Ken Elliott has been reunited with his family in Australia after being held hostage for seven years in Western Africa.”
Ms Wong confirmed that no ransom was paid for Dr Elliott’s freedom.
She added, “The Australian Government has a policy that we don’t pay ransoms.”
“We have worked closely with local and other government authorities to ensure that Dr Elliott’s case is dealt with in a timely manner.”
In a family statement, the family said: “We would like to thank God and everyone who has continued to pray for us.
“We are relieved that Dr Elliott has been released and we thank the Australian Government and all those who worked tirelessly to secure his release.”
“At the age of 88, and after spending many years away, Dr. Elliott needs privacy and time to recover and regain strength.”
Click here to read more
Al Qaeda leader is killed in US drone strike
Colombian nun held hostage in Mali is freed
In January 2016, AQIM kidnapped Dr Elliott and his spouse near Djibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso.
The militant group is a terrorist organization by the UN, and other countries like the US and UK. It operates in the mountains of Algeria, Mali, Libya and Niger.
The kidnapping of foreign tourists and aid workers for ransom is largely responsible for its rise to prominence.