"We want to thank God and everyone who has continued to pray for us. We express our relief at his release and thank the Australian Government and all those who have contributed to his release over time."
Arthur Kenneth Elliott, an Australian doctor kidnapped in Burkina Faso by jihadists from the jihadist group Ansar Dine, linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb 7 years ago, has been released, according to an announcement made by the Australian government on the night of 18 to May 19.
AFRICA/MALI - Arthur Kenneth Elliott freed after seven years in captivity https://t.co/uoSz3U0lrd pic.twitter.com/3hKDJE2yxs- Agenzia Fides (@AgenceFides) May 19, 2023
"Elliot is safe and sound and is back in Perth with his wife and children," said Penny Wong, Australia's foreign minister.
Now 88 years old, "the doctor of the poor" ran a 120-bed clinic for more than 40 years. He was abducted with his wife, Jocelyn Elliott, who was released after three weeks.
In a statement released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, his family expressed their gratitude to "God and all who have continued to pray for us".
"We want to thank God and all those who have continued to pray for us. We express our relief at his release and thank the Australian Government and all those who have contributed to his release over time. At 88 years old, and after many many years spent away from his country, Arthur now needs time and privacy to rest and regain his strength. We thank you for your understanding and support."
Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, priest of the Society of African Missions, ex-hostage, expressed his relief. "I learned with relief and immense joy the news of the release of Dr Elliot who was finally able to reunite with his loved ones."
He also thinks of the other hostages still in the hands of their captors.
"At the same time, I share a feeling of sympathy for all the other hostages of whom we have no news. I am thinking of Iulian Ghergut, kidnapped in Burkina Faso on April 4, 2015 and of whom we are still without news. Today, that is also exactly one year since the Italian Langone family was abducted in Mali on May 19, 2022."