Tag: Burkina Faso

Swiss missionary kidnapped in Mali ‘still alive’

by Illia Djadi

UPDATE (17 June): Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video, purporting to show that a Swiss nun kidnapped in Mali in January is alive and in good health.

The three-minute video, posted on social media yesterday (16 June), shows a veiled Beatrice Stockly speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well, although it has been very hot. She concludes by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release.

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Beatrice Stockly, left, in Timbuktu 2000. She was first kidnapped in 2012 World Watch Monito

Previous report (15 February): Al-Qaeda in Africa has claimed the kidnapping of the Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly, who was abducted in Mali in January.

In an eight-minute video, in which Stockly appears dressed in a black hijab, a masked speaker with a British accent claims responsibility on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Beatrice Stockly is a Swiss nun who declared war against Islam in her attempt to Christianise Muslims,” the speaker said.

The conditions of her release include setting free AQIM fighters jailed in Mali, and one of their leaders detained at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Switzerland has demanded her unconditional release.

AQIM, which is based in the Sahara Desert between Mali, Niger and Algeria, was involved in the January attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, which left 29 dead, including a US missionary and six Canadians visiting the country on behalf of a church. Last week AQIM released Jocelyn Elliott, an Australian Christian woman kidnapped with her husband in northern Burkina Faso on the same day as the attack in the capital. The Islamist group said in an audio recording that it released Mrs Elliott so as “not to make women involved in the war”.

Stockly was taken from her home in Timbuktu by armed gunmen on 7 January. It was the second time she had been kidnapped by Islamists. The most important condition of her release, the speaker in the video said, was that she did not return to any Muslim land preaching Christianity. The Swiss government had warned her not to return to Mali after her release in 2012.

Original report (11 January):

A Swiss missionary abducted for 10 days in 2012 has been kidnapped again in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu, sources tell World Watch Monitor.

Beatrice Stockly was taken from her residence before dawn on 8 Jan. by armed men, who arrived in four pickup trucks, according to the sources, whose names are being kept confidential for their safety.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Militant Islamist groups are active in the region, where two attacks within the past seven weeks, one of them at a Christian radio station just before Christmas, have left 25 people dead.

A local church leader, who claimed to have previously worked with Stockly, told World Watch Monitor the missionary settled in Timbuktu in 2000, working for a Swiss church, before starting work alone, unaffiliated with any church.

He said Stockly is in her forties and leads an austere life, selling flowers and handing out Christian material. She was described as sociable, particularly among women and children.

Her home is in Abaradjou, a popular district of Timbuktu frequented by armed jihadist groups. She was taken from that same residence in April 2012, when northern Mali was occupied by armed Islamist groups. She was released 10 days later, following mediation led by neighbouring Burkina Faso.
During the 2012 occupation, Christians, a minority in Mali, have paid a heavy price. For most of the year, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.

Thousands, including many Christians, fled and found refuge in the south, or in neighbouring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. Others fled to Bamako, the capital, and other safer towns in the south.

Unlike other Christians, Stockly remained in the city. At her mother and brother’s urging, she returned to Switzerland after her 2012 kidnap, but soon returned, saying, ‘‘It’s Timbuktu or nothing’’.

Growing insecurity

The Mali government and the predominantly Tuareg rebel groups signed a peace agreement in June 2015, with limited impact. Jihadist groups have regained ground and intensified attacks, targeting Mali security forces and UN peacekeepers. Their scope has spread to southern regions previously spared by their incursions.

On 17 Dec., three men were killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire outside Radio Tahanint (Radio Mercy in the local dialect), which is closely linked with a Baptist Church in Timbuktu. Hamar Oumar Dicko and Samuel Dicko worked for the station; Abdal Malick Ag Alher was a visiting friend.

Dr. Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, President of the Baptist Church in Mali, told World Watch Monitor at the time that Christians were “shocked to see what happened”.

“We are trying to find out what happened, but for now we don’t have any explanation,” he said.

“It’s a Christian radio station that was broadcasting messages of peace lately. One of the young men who was shot last night, he had just finished broadcasting and his last words were about peace.”

“Insecurity is everywhere in Mali,” Yattara said. “The situation is very frail, but we didn’t see a particular threat to the community.”

About one month earlier, terrorists killed 22 people at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. The government imposed a state of emergency that expired on 22 Dec., then extended it to 31 March.

It is thought that the abduction of Stockly is the first of a foreigner since the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in the northeastern town of Kidal in November 2013.

Source: World Watch Monitor



Christian Missionary Kidnapped in Burkina Faso Freed. Husband remains in captivity

Islamic extremists have freed an Australian missionary woman who was kidnapped last month in northern Burkina Faso. Her husband remains in captivity despite efforts by officials to secure his release.

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Jocelyn Elliott and her husband, surgeon Ken Elliott, were abducted following an attack in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou by suspected Islamic extremists that killed 30 people.

Al-Qaida’s North Africa wing claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, though the group said in an audio recording Friday that it would release Jocelyn so as “not to make women involved in the war.”

She was freed in neighboring Niger, where she appeared alongside President Mahamadou Issoufou in the town of Dosso, located about 90 miles southeast of the capital, Niamey.

Issoufou worked with Burkina Faso intelligence services to secure her release, said Abdourahmane Alilou, a spokesman for Niger’s president.

Australian media carried a statement from the Elliott’s’ family urging that Ken Elliott also be freed.

“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 statement said.

The Elliott’s, who are in their 80’s, are originally from Perth but have lived in the town of Djibo, where they have run a medical clinic for four decades.

A family spokesperson says that they spent their lives helping people in the West African country.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged to continue working with regional governments to secure Ken Elliott’s release.

“We’re dealing with a difficult diplomatic situation and the Burkina Faso government is working very well on it and we’ll continue to stay in touch with them,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source:CBN News



Burkina Faso social media campaign to free Dr Ken and Joyce Elliot

People in Burkina Faso are campaigning for the release of an Australian doctor and his wife, kidnapped the same day as the attack on the capital.

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Dr Ken Elliott and his wife set up their Djibo clinic in 1972

Ken and Jocelyn Elliott, who are in their 80s, have built up medical facilities since the 1970s in the town of Djibo near the Mali border.

Locals have started a Facebook page posting messages of support.

It is unclear if their abduction is related to Friday’s deadly al-Qaeda attack in the capital Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso’s government says 28 people were killed and a further 56 injured in the attack, which targeted two hotels and a cafe frequented by foreign nationals. Six of the dead were from Canada.

Hamadou Ag Khallini, a spokesperson for Malian militant group Ansar Dine, told Australian media that the al Qaeda-linked Emirate of the Sahara group were holding the couple.

The group operates in northern Mali.

No reason for the abduction has yet been given and the couple’s whereabouts are unknown, Australia’s foreign ministry said.

The couple were running a 120-bed clinic in the town of Dijbo, where Dr Elliot is the only surgeon.

Djibo residents have set up a Facebook page called “Djibo supports Dr Ken Elliot” to describe the impact he and his wife have had on the town.

Analysis – Thomas Fessy, BBC West Africa correspondent, Ouagadougou

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This latest kidnapping bears signs of an operation mounted by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The extremist group has a long history of kidnap-for-ransom in the region, to the extent that it once was one of its major revenue sources.

Similarly, the attack on the cafe and hotel popular with foreigners in the capital was carefully planned. Throughout the siege, AQIM was releasing statements about its intentions to kill as many Westerners as possible.

The intervention of French special forces was key to retaking control of the hotel but this latest attack is another blow for France’s military strategy in the Sahel. The French drove most jihadi groups out of their hideouts in northern Mali but AQIM and others remain an active threat throughout the region.

Former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore had forged some kind of relationship with these groups, often negotiating the release of foreign hostages. But since he was ousted in a popular uprising, Burkina Faso may have become just another battleground for the Islamist militants.

The page says Dr Elliott’s “numerous patients are waiting for him”.

“Elliott is all for us and we need him like a baby needs his mother,” said resident Moussa Dicko, quoted on the page.

“Elliott is a Burkinabe and a humane person,” said Francois Ramde. “He represents the best of humanity.”

“Let the name of God not be used in connection with this ignoble act because it was God who sent Elliott to us and will bring him back,” said Roots Hassane.

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Ken and Jocelyn Elliott have received an outpouring of support

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Dr Elliott is the only surgeon in Djibo

Friday’s attack in Ouagadougou was claimed by AQIM on behalf of one of its affiliates, al-Murabitoun, which is run by the notorious Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

Militant groups in the Sahel region of north and west Africa have long used kidnap for ransom as a way of raising money.

Last April, al-Murabitoun claimed to have abducted a Romanian security manager who was working at a mine in the north of the country.

 

Source: BBC News