The search for an Australian doctor and his wife, who were captured by extremists following the Burkina Faso attacks on Friday, continues.
Kenneth and Jocelyn Elliott, both in their 80s, were reportedly abducted from their home during their sleep by Al Qaeda-linked jihadiststs in Djibo, 45km away from the border with Mali.
The Perth couple had been running a medical clinic and had lived in Djibo since 1972.
According to reports by the ABC, a spokesman for Malian militant group Ansar Dine, Hamadou Ag Khallini, said the couple were being held by jihadists from the Al Qaeda-linked “Emirate of the Sahara” in a phone message.
The news comes just after Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou — the country’s capital and popular among Western tourists — was attacked by suspected extremists, leaving 28 people from 18 countries dead. It is still unclear whether these attacks, which terrorist network al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for, were related to the kidnapping.
In a statement released on Sunday, a spokesman for the family of the Elliotts said: “Recent news from the country indicates an alleged abduction of Ken and Jocelyn on Friday night, however no reason is yet given for this and their whereabouts is still unknown. Their family is in Western Australia and wish to maintain their privacy.”
A French Facebook page, translated as “Djibo supports Dr Ken Elliot”, has already been set up with more than 500 liking the page.
The landlocked West African country has been facing political unrest since October 2014 when a popular revolt saw former president Blaise CompaorÃ© being overthrown.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has since issued a warning for all Australians to reconsider their travel plans to Burkina Faso and have advised people from travelling north of Djibo and Dori due to high risks.
They issued a statement earlier saying: “Our Post in Accra, Ghana, is working with local authorities on a suspected kidnapping. We will not comment further on the situation.”
Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary, who was born in Australia, was scheduled to travel to Burkina Faso from January 24-26 as part of an official visit but Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said they would reassess the safety of the trip.