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Kenneth Elliott, 88-year-old Australian doctor, freed 7 years after kidnapping by Islamic extremists

CANBERRA, Australia — An 88-year-old Australian doctor held captive by Islamic extremists in West Africa for more than seven years has been freed and has returned to Australia.

Kenneth Elliott was safe and well and was reunited with his wife and their children on Thursday night, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

“I’m very pleased to advise that Dr. Ken Elliott, who’s been held hostage in Western Africa for some seven years, has been reunited in Australia with his family,” Wong told reporters in Sydney.

Elliott and his wife were kidnapped in Burkina Faso, where they had run a medical clinic for four decades. Jocelyn Elliott was released three weeks later.

“We wish to express our thanks to God and all who have continued to pray for us,” Elliott’s family said in a statement released by Wong’s department.

“We express our relief that Dr. Elliott is free and thank the Australian government and all who have been involved over time to secure his release,” the family statement said.

Neither the family nor Wong detailed the circumstances of Elliott’s release. The doctor is from the west coast city of Perth, but Wong did not say where the family was in Australia.

“At 88 years of age, and after many years away from home, Dr. Elliott now needs time and privacy to rest and rebuild strength,” the family added.

The militant group behind the kidnapping, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, rose to prominence in large part through kidnap-for-ransom operations targeting foreign aid workers and tourists.

On the day the Australian couple were kidnapped – Jan. 15, 2016 – 30 people were killed in an extremist attack in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. Al-Qaida’s North Africa wing claimed responsibility for that attack and other high-profile strikes in West Africa months earlier, including killing 20 people in an attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako.

The Elliotts were kidnapped near the northern Burkina Faso town of Djibo, near the border with Mali and Niger.

Jocelyn Elliott was freed in neighboring Niger. Niger’s then-President Mahamadou Issoufou had worked with Burkina Faso intelligence services to secure her release, his office said at the time.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁