Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

LIFESTYLES

New smart devices

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Valls needs to satisfy Socialists with €50bn cuts plan

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing of relations with US

Read more

#THE 51%

The Peacemakers: Does gender really make a difference?

Read more

DEBATE

Fatah-Hamas Talks: Towards a United Palestinian Front? (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

S. Sudanese rebels accused of ethnic slaughter in oil town

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Fascist finger-pointing

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande carries the cross of unemployment

Read more

DEBATE

Fatah-Hamas Talks: Towards a United Palestinian Front?

Read more

  • French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal has died, Islamists say

    Read more

  • Violent protests erupt in Rio de Janeiro

    Read more

  • Chelsea, Atletico draw 0-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • French actress Catherine Deneuve to sell €4 million château

    Read more

  • Ukraine relaunches offensive in the east after politican 'tortured'

    Read more

  • Echoes of 2pac and Biggie? French rap feud turns violent

    Read more

  • New French film tackles grisly anti-Semitic murder

    Read more

  • Photos link ‘little green men’ in Ukraine to Russian troops

    Read more

  • New anti-radicalisation plans aimed at fighting jihadism

    Read more

  • David Moyes sacked by Man United after just 10 months

    Read more

  • Hollande facing mounting pressure over Syrian refugees

    Read more

  • US probes new claims of chemical weapons use in Syria

    Read more

  • Islamist militants kill second Somali lawmaker in 24 hours

    Read more

  • Court orders US to release memos on drone strikes

    Read more

  • ‘I suffered mock executions,’ says freed French journalist

    Read more

  • S. Sudan rebels massacre hundreds in key town, says UN

    Read more

  • Air strikes kill scores of al Qaeda militants in Yemen

    Read more

Africa

Mali rebels release Swiss hostage

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-04-24

A Swiss missionary who was taken hostage in the rebel-held Malian city of Timbuktu just over a week ago has been handed over to troops from neighbouring Burkina Faso, according to militant Islamist group Ansar Dine.

AFP - A Swiss woman who was abducted in rebel-held Timbuktu in northern Mali last week was released Tuesday and handed over to troops from Burkina Faso.

Beatrice Stockly, who is in her 40s, was brought to the meeting point in a pick-up truck wearing a black dress and turban before being quickly whisked away by helicopter, reported an AFP journalist, who was barred from disclosing further details until the aircraft left Malian airspace.

The Swiss foreign ministry thanked "all the people and the authorities who worked" on the operation, "in particular authorities from Mali and Burkina Faso."

Stockly was the last Westerner living in Timbuktu, where she worked as a social activist, and refused to leave after the legendary desert city fell to the Islamist Ansar Dine rebels on April 1.

She is "is fine, considering the circumstances," the ministry statement said.

Ansar Dine's assault on Timbuktu was backed by fighters from Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

A source in Timbuktu previously said Stockly had originally been in the hands of a private militia that wanted to sell her to AQIM.

Two sources in Timbuktu, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that Ansar Dine had battled the kidnappers for Stockly and were prepared to free her.

A loose alliance of Tuareg and Islamist rebels took advantage of the political chaos in Mali's capital that followed a March 22 army coup by capturing the country's vast desert north, including Timbuktu.

But that alliance has splintered since the initial offensive. Ansar Dine has sought to impose sharia law in areas under its control and has distanced itself from the Tuareg nationalist cause.

Security sources said Sunday that the Islamist group had rejected any intervention from humanitarian groups regarding Stockly, saying they preferred to deal directly with the Swiss government.

Switzerland's foreign ministry said Monday it was in contact with the group holding Stockly, but declined to discuss any pending rescue operations.

Stockly was first captured roughly 10 kilometres outside Timbuktu by an unidentified armed group, security sources in the area previously told AFP.

They then tried to move her further away from the city but were confronted by the Ansar Dine fighters who now control Timbuktu.

"There was an exchange of fire," said one source, and the kidnappers "were forced to abandon the hostage."

Following Stockly's release, 19 hostages remain in the hands of AQIM and an Al-Qaeda splinter group called Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJOA) in the Sahel.

Among them are seven Algerian diplomats abducted at gunpoint on April 5 from their embassy in Gao, another key northern Malian town under rebel control.

A MUJAO member told AFP by telephone on Tuesday that the group had agreed to release the prisoners following talks with Ansar Dine.

"We made an agreement with our brothers from Ansar Dine," the MUJAO member said.

In Bamako, the new leaders appointed earlier this month after the military junta agreed to stand down are struggling to form a transitional government.

Aside from re-establishing civilian rule, the government will also have to plot a strategy to reclaim the north from the collection of rebel groups that now control it.

The 15-nation west African bloc (ECOWAS) has floated the prospect of a military intervention, but the details of the operation are far from resolved.

 

Date created : 2012-04-24

  • MALI - ALGERIA

    Mali kidnappers willing to release Algerian diplomats

    Read more

  • MALI

    Ousted Mali president arrives in Senegal

    Read more

  • MALI

    Mali steps up arrests despite international protests

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)