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Australian couple in their 80s kidnapped by African Islamist group

The couple have lived in Burkina Faso for over 40 years.

Soldiers stand guard outside the entrance of the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Soldiers stand guard outside the entrance of the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

TWO AUSTRALIANS HAVE been kidnapped in Burkina Faso, officials said, as a Malian Islamist group said the couple were in the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.

The Burkina government said the pair were kidnapped in Baraboule, near the west African country’s borders with Niger and Mali.

A Burkinabe intelligence source told AFP the Australians were a couple in their 80s from the western city of Perth who had lived since 1972 in Djibo, near Baraboule.

News of the kidnapping came as a jihadist assault on an upmarket hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou left at least 26 people dead, including many foreigners.

Burkina Faso’s Communications Minister Remi Dandjinou said the couple were Australian nationals, correcting an earlier interior ministry statement identifying them as Austrian.

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.

The Australian department of foreign affairs said it was aware of the reports but declined to comment further when contacted by AFP.

“Our post in Accra, Ghana, is working with local authorities on a suspected kidnapping. We will not comment further on the situation,” it said.

A European diplomatic source confirmed they had received intelligence on Friday that a Western couple had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso, without giving their nationality.

Ansar Dine is one of the jihadist groups that seized control of northern Mali in March and April 2012.

© – AFP 2016

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