An 88-year-old Australian doctor held hostage in Africa for more than seven years by al-Qaeda-linked militants has been reunited with his family after being released.
Dr. Ken Elliott and his wife Jocelyn, who together ran a medical clinic in Burkina Fasowere removed in 2016 by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – a African subsidiary of the jihadist group.
Ms Elliott was released three weeks later following a joint effort by Burkina Faso’s intelligence services and neighboring then president NigerMahamadou Issoufou.
THURSDAY, Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said Dr Elliott has now been released and has since been reunited with his wife and children.
“I am very happy to announce that Dr Ken Elliott, who has been held hostage in West Africa for approximately seven years, has been reunited in Australia with his family,” she said in a statement.
No further details were released of Dr Elliott’s release, but Ms Wong said no ransom had been paid.
“The Australian government has a clear policy that we don’t pay ransoms,” she added.
“What we have done over the last seven years is make sure we work with other governments and local authorities in relation to Dr Elliott.”
A family statement said: “We want to express our thanks to God and to all who have continued to pray for us.
“We express our relief that Dr Elliott is free and thank the Australian Government and all those who have been involved over time in securing his release.
“At 88, and after many years away from home, Dr Elliott now needs time and privacy to rest and regain his strength.”
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Dr Elliott and his wife were abducted by AQIM near the town of Djibo, in northern Burkina Faso, in January 2016.
The militant group, considered a terrorist organization by the UN and countries including the US and UK, operates from the Algerian mountains of Kabylie and in parts of Mali, Libya, Niger and the Mauritania.
It rose to prominence largely through kidnap-for-ransom operations targeting foreign aid workers and tourists.