Sabato, 06 Febbraio 2016 12:12 | Militants free Australian woman kidnapped in Burkina Faso

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Niamey - Militants have freed an Australian woman kidnapped last month in northern Burkina Faso, a spokesperson for the president of neighbouring Niger said on Saturday.

Jocelyn Elliott and her husband -

surgeon Ken Elliott - were kidnapped on January 15 near the Burkina Faso town of Djibo, where they have run a medical clinic for four decades.

Al-Qaeda's North Africa wing claimed responsibility for the kidnapping on Friday, saying the operation was part of a bid to secure the release of its imprisoned fighters, according to an audio recording translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi activity online.

The group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, said in the same recording that it would release Jocelyn Elliott without conditions so as "not to make women involved in the war." Both Elliotts are in their 80s.

Mediation process

Niger presidential spokesperson Abdourahmane Alilou said on Saturday night that Jocelyn Elliott appeared alongside Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou in the Niger town of Dosso, located about 140km southeast of the capital, Niamey.

Jocelyn Elliott "was freed following mediation led by the president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and presented to the press this afternoon in Dosso," Alilou said. He said Burkina Faso intelligence services had also been involved in securing her release and that efforts were ongoing to free Ken Elliott.

Al-Qaeda 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.

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