Tag: kidnapped

Colombian nun kidnapped in southern Mali

Children play by a bullet-riddled police station in Gao, Mali. August 28, 2013. UN Photo / Marco Dormino

A Colombian nun was kidnapped by armed men on 7 Jan in southern Mali, a relatively safe part of the country, which has been mainly unaffected by Islamist attacks.
Gloria Agoti is part of the congregation of Franciscan Sisters in the convent of Karangasso, about 300km from Bamako, the capital.

Local sources said a group of armed men broke into the convent at around 9pm. They kidnapped the nun and locked up her assistant, before driving away in a car belonging to the convent. The car was later abandoned by the kidnappers, who were said to have continued their journey on motorbikes.

They also took some valuables, including laptops. Her assistant was later found and freed from the room in which she had been locked.

“The area where the religious woman was kidnapped is a quiet area and that is what is surprising,” Fr. Edmond Dembele, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Mali, told Fides. “That area of the country has not yet been touched by the insecurity that affects other areas of Mali.”

Malian security forces have initiated a search operation in an attempt to rescue the nun. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

The Malian 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 Malian security forces and UN peacekeepers.

The UN Mission in Mali honours nine Nigerien peacekeepers killed on 3 October 2014. UN Photo/Marco Dormino

On 18 Jan. a vehicle packed with explosives detonated at a camp housing soldiers and members of rival armed groups in Mali’s northern city of Gao, killing more than 60 people and injuring more than 100 others. Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, said a group linked to it had carried out the attack.

Earlier, on 24 Dec, a French-Swiss aid worker was kidnapped in Gao. Sophie Petronin, who runs a non-governmental organisation that helps children suffering from malnutrition, has lived in Gao for years.

A year before (on Jan 8, 2016), a Swiss missionary was kidnapped in Timbuktu, also in northern Mali. Beatrice Stockly was taken from her residence before dawn, by armed men who arrived in four pickup trucks. It is thought that Stockly’s abduction was the first of a foreigner since the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in the north-eastern town of Kidal in November 2013.

A video released by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb on 10 Jan, 2017 appeared to show Stockly was still alive.

The kidnapping of the Colombian nun suggests the reach of the militants is growing. It’s the first incident in southern Mali since the November 2015 attack, which claimed 22 lives at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

Mali is ranked 32nd on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to be a Christian. Mali was the highest riser on the annual list, rising from 44th in 2016.

Source: World Watch Monitor



Chibok girls: Freed students reunite with families in Nigeria

Twenty-one schoolgirls who had been kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Chibok have been reunited with their families.

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The girls were welcomed by their relatives in a ceremony in Abuja

In an emotional ceremony in the capital Abuja, one of the girls said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death at least once.

It is unclear how the release was negotiated, but an official says talks are under way to free some more girls.

Of the 276 students kidnapped in April 2014, 197 are still missing.

One of the girls freed said during a Christian ceremony in Abuja: “I was… [in] the woods when the plane dropped a bomb near me but I wasn’t hurt.

“We had no food for one month and 10 days but we did not die. We thank God,” she added, speaking in the local Hausa language.

Many of the kidnapped students were Christian but had been forcibly converted to Islam during captivity.

Another girl said: “We never imagined that we would see this day but, with the help of God, we were able to come out of enslavement.”

Excited relatives were waiting to be reunited with the girls, who were released last Thursday.

One parent said: “We thank God. I never thought I was going to see my daughter again but here she is… Those who are still out there – may God bring them back to be reunited with their parents.”

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Boko Haram has shown some of those kidnapped in its propaganda videos

Nigerian authorities have denied reports that captured Boko Haram fighters were swapped for the girls. But one security official told the BBC that four commanders had been freed.

The AP news agency also reported that a “handsome ransom”, in the millions of dollars, was paid by the Swiss government on behalf of the Nigerian government.

Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said Thursday’s release was “the first step” for the liberation of all the remaining girls.

“Already we are on phase two and we are already in discussions,” he told journalists on Sunday.

“But of course you know these are very delicate negotiations, there are some promises we made also about the confidentiality of the entire exercise and we intend to keep them.”

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Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (right) welcomed the released girls

Some of the kidnapped girls managed to escape within hours of their kidnapping, mostly by jumping off lorries and running into nearby bushes.

In total, 219 girls were captured and taken away. But it appears that some of the girls may have died in captivity.

And reports say that, following more than two years in captivity and after being married off to Boko Haram fighters, some of the girls do not want to go home.

 

Source: BBC News



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



Libyan TV crew found dead eight months after kidnap

Five journalists belonging to a Libyan TV crew have been found dead, eight months after they were kidnapped.

A government spokesman said the bodies were found near the city of Al Bayda, close to the site of the kidnapping.

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The crew was taken in August while travelling through territory largely controlled by extremist militants.

Libya has been in turmoil since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and now has two competing governments and numerous militia groups.

Faraj al-Barassi, a district army commander in eastern Libya, told Reuters that militants loyal to Islamic State (IS) were responsible for the killings.

IS-affiliated militants have established a strong presence in parts of Libya, including Derna where the kidnapping is believed to have taken place.

The journalists were travelling from Tobruk to Benghazi when they were captured near Derna
Parts of Libya have descended into lawless chaos following the overthrow of Gaddafi, allowing extremists to gain ground.

A February report by Human Rights Watch said there was a “climate of impunity” in the country that “allowed militias to assault, threaten, kidnap, or even kill journalists”.

Libya’s internationally recognised government has fled from the capital Tripoli to the eastern city of Tobruk, while a rival parliament has been established in Tripoli itself.

Source: BBC