The Australian government has reported that an 88-year-old Australian doctor who had been kept captive in West Africa for more than seven years has been freed and safely returned to his family.
Kenneth Elliott, a resident of Perth on Australia’s west coast, has been reunited with his wife Jocelyn and their children and is safe and well, according to a statement from Penny Wong, the country’s foreign minister, on Friday.
“We extend our thanks to the Australian officials who have worked over many years to secure Doctor Elliott’s release and to provide support to his family,” Wong said.
Near the borders with Mali and Niger in northern Burkina Faso, where they had run a 120-bed medical clinic for more than 40 years, Elliott and his wife were abducted by rebel gunmen in January 2016. After three weeks, Jocelyn Elliott was allowed to go.
Due to pressure from the public and directives from commanders not to employ women in combat, according to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group seized the pair and unconditionally released the woman.
“We express our relief that Doctor Elliott is free and thank the Australian government and all who have been involved over time to secure his release,” the family said.
“At 88 years of age, and after many years away from home, Dr Elliott now needs time and privacy to rest and rebuild strength. We thank you for your understanding and sympathy.”
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