A militant group has released Jocelyn Elliott after abducting her and her husband Ken Elliott on January 15.
Elliott was presented at a news conference in Dosso by Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou with negotiations continuing for the release of her husband, according to reports by Reuters.
“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,” read a statement released by the couple’s family.
The two Australians were taken by al-Qaeda linked extremists from their home in northern Burkina Faso, 45km away from the border with Mali, where they had lived since 1972.
According to reports by AAP and Reuters, an audio statement was released through messaging app Telegram on the channel of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), saying the militant group would release a female captive unconditionally.
The Perth couple, both in their 80s, had run a 120-bed medical clinic for more than 40 years providing health services in the remote town of Djibo.
The kidnappings took place shortly after armed militants attacked Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, killing more than 29 people and leaving more than 50 wounded after a series of bomb explosions outside the Splendid Hotel.
The same militant group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The recording says that “the primary motive behind their kidnapping was an attempt to (gain) release of our captives who sit behind bars and suffer the pain of imprisonment, as well as being deprived of their basic rights”.
Further reports suggest this was also a result of “public pressure” as well as “guidance from al-Qaeda leaders not to involve women in war”.
A warning for Australians travelling to the landlocked West African country remains with DFAT advising against all travel to areas north of a line connecting Djibo and Dori due to very high risk.