PERTH • An Australian couple reportedly kidnapped and held by militants in Burkina Faso have dedicated their lives to providing medical services to people in the remote north of the country, a family spokesman said yesterday.
Dr Ken Elliott and his wife Jocelyn, were kidnapped overnight in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said in a televised address to the nation on Saturday after Al-Qaeda fighters staged an attack on the capital Ouagadougou.
It is not known if the Elliotts' abduction was related to the attack. The doctor and his wife are in their 80s.
Hamadou Ag Khallini, a spokesperson for Malian militant group Ansar Dine, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Islamists from the Al-Qaeda-linked "Emirate of the Sahara" group are holding the couple. More details would be released soon, Khallini said in a brief phone message.
The Elliot family spokesman, in a statement released by Australia's foreign ministry, 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 are still unknown."
The couple have operated a 120-bed clinic in the town of Dijbo, where Ken is the only surgeon, for more than 40 years. "They are held in high esteem by the local people," the spokesman said, requesting that their family be granted privacy.
An Australian foreign ministry spokesman said its office in Ghana is working with the authorities and declined to comment further.