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Australian medical worker freed by al Qaeda kidnappers in Burkina Faso

An Australian woman kidnapped last month in Burkina Faso by militants linked to al Qaeda has been released. Her husband is still being held.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou appeared at a news conference with Jocelyn Elliott on Saturday, saying he had worked with Burkina Faso intelligence services to secure her release.

Speaking in Dosso, in southwestern Niger, Issoufou said authorities were intensifying their efforts to release her husband, Dr. Ken Elliott, who is still being held. The couple were abducted in the town of Djibo near Burkina Faso's border with Mali on January 15.

Al Qaeda's North Africa wing has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and said on Friday that it would release Jocelyn Elliott so as "not to make women involved in the war." The message was sent via an audio recording translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said that Jocelyn Elliott was to be released unconditionally due to public pressure and guidance from al Qaeda leaders not to involve women in war.

The circumstances of her release and how she arrived in Niger were not immediately clear.

Dr. Ken Elliott and Jocelyn Elliott are both in their 80s and have operated a 120-bed clinic in Djibo for 40 years.

They were abducted the same day al Qaeda militants

raided a restaurant and hotel

in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou (photo), killing 30 people.

Among the dead were six people from the Canadian province of Quebec. Their funerals were held on Saturday in Quebec City, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in attendance.

jm/cmk (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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