Sunday, January 17, 2016 6:13 am
A couple kidnapped overnight in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali are Australian citizens who run a clinic and have lived in Djibo, near the Malian border since 1972, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said on Saturday.
In an address broadcast on state-owned television, Kabore identified the victims of the abduction, which took place as al Qaeda fighters were attacking a hotel in the capital, as Kenneth and Jocelyn Elliott.
Burkina Faso’s security ministry had earlier said the couple were Austrian citizens. Dr Kenneth Elliot is 80 years old and runs the only hospital in the town, which he built on his own.
A spokesman for Malian militant group Ansar Dine, Hamadou Ag Khallini, told AFP in a brief phone message that the couple were being held by jihadists from the Al-Qaeda-linked “Emirate of the Sahara”.
He said they were alive and more details would be released soon.
There has been an outpouring of love and messages of support as people learn of the couple’s kidnapping.
‘Terrorist if you knew that he is a man of God. Terrorist if you knew that he is a humanitarian… who dedicated his life to servicing humanity… If you knew that he is good and you are bad. Thais man has saved lives and brought hope to a lot of families. A lot of sick people are currently suffering in his hospital in Djibo. Terrorist if you knew you wouldn’t dare,’ wrote Hamidou Ouedraogo.
‘We love you and we pray for you Dr Elliot that you will return safe and sold to the dear village that you saw be born! You’ve barely been gone a day and we already miss you, all the people of the town ask what this beautiful space in the heart of Djibo is worth without you,’ Adama Barry.
‘We are Elliot, you are etched in our heart, God will protect you.’
‘God save this man who came to help the people in the name of God. I love this man, I saw him build his hospital himself, brick by brick… God save the king to the happiness of the people and the sick,’ wrote another.
Mr and Mrs Elliot both grew up in rural Western Australia. In his early twenties, Dr Elliot worked with Freemantle Hospital and the Kalgoorlie based Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The couple ‘received a call from the Lord to open a Medical Ministry at Djibo with a particular view of reaching the Fulani people.’
Together they ‘literally built the hospital with their own hands using Ken’s farming skills.’
The hospital they built, the Centre Medico-Chirugicale de Djibo is still the only hospital in the region and has space for 120 patients. Jocelyn assists Dr Elliot with a portion of the Lab work. Dr Elliot is responsible for both the anaesthetics and surgical work during his surgeries.