By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
PERTH, AUSTRALIA (Worthy News) – An Australian missionary doctor is recovering after being released by Islamic militants who held him for seven long years in West Africa, Worthy News learned Thursday.
Kenneth Elliott, 88, is safe and well and has been reunited with his wife, Jocelyn, and their children, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed.
“We wish to express our thanks to God and all who have continued to pray for us,” his family added in a statement shared with Worthy News.
Elliott, now 88, was abducted with his wife Jocelyn in January 2016 close to the Niger border by a group believed to have links to the al-Qaida terror group.
Jocelyn Elliott was released after about three weeks. The Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb group said at the time it had kidnapped the couple and would remove the woman unconditionally “because of public pressure and guidance from leaders not to involve women in war.”
The couple was seized in January 2016 from Djibo, near Burkina Faso’s border with Mali, where the pair operated a 120-bed clinic for more than 40 years.
Dr. Elliot was understood to be well and flew into Perth last week following his May 19 release.
AWAY FROM HOME
However, “At 88 years of age, and after many years away from home, Dr. Elliott now needs time and privacy to rest and rebuild strength. We thank you for your understanding and sympathy,” his family added.
“We express our relief that Dr. Elliott is free and thank the Australian government and all who have been involved over time to secure his release.”
Though not all details surrounding his release were publicly shared, no ransom was paid by the Australian government or by Dr. Elliot’s family, officials said.
The family stressed that they “also continue to pray for those still held and wish them freedom and safe return to their loved ones,” a reference to other Christians kidnapped in the region.
The Australian couple leaves behind a region where many struggle to survive. Before moving to Burkina Faso, Dr. Elliott re-opened a closed hospital in Benin in 1967, working there for four years.
Dr. Elliott has described Burkina Faso as “one of the poorest countries in the world” and said their Djibo medical center could accommodate around 140 patients — many of whom had not slept on a mattress before.
“I regularly operate five to six hours a day for six days of the week. The needs are unimaginable, and we tackle some horrific cases, but … the results are mostly pleasing,” he wrote in a booklet.
Christian aid workers urged believers to “pray that he will recover from his lengthy ordeal.”
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