A Perth doctor and his wife, abducted by suspected Islamist extremists in West Africa, have ‘dedicated their lives’ to helping people, a family spokesperson says.
Dr Ken Elliot and his wife Jocelyn are believed to have been abducted in the north of the country following an attack on the capital of Ouagadougou on Friday that killed 28 people.
The couple, in their 80s, moved to Burkina Faso in 1972 to set up a medical clinic in the northern town of Djibo.
The Elliots ‘dedicated their lives’ to helping the people of the region, according to a family statement released through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Sunday.
‘Recent news from the country indicates an alleged abduction of Ken and Jocelyn on Friday night, however no reason is yet given for this and their whereabouts is still unknown,’ a family spokesperson said.
‘Their commitment to the local people is reflected in the fact that they have continued there with only a few holidays since 1972.
‘They are held in high esteem by the local people.’
Burkina Faso president Roch Marc Christian Kabore confirmed on Sunday that two Australians had been kidnapped near the border of Mali.
The casualties from Friday’s attacks are believed to be from 18 countries, while around 50 civilians were wounded.
The attacks, claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, occurred in hotels and restaurants, with 156 people taken hostage but later freed when security forces regained control of the area, killing four jihadis.
The abducted couple both grew up in the WA country, with Dr Elliot leaving school at 15 to work on his family’s farm.
He graduated from university in 1963 before spending two years at Fremantle Hospital as well as a locum with the Royal Flying Doctor Service – based out of Kalgoorlie, in WA’s Goldfields region.
Dr Elliot performed 150 surgical operations a month in the Friends of Burkina Faso Medical Clinic, which he designed and built himself, according to a 2013 Global Business Services incorporated newsletter.
Dr Elliot, the sole surgeon at the clinic, said the need for modern medicine was enormous in the West African region in a GBSI interview about the clinic.
‘Our great thrust is surgery because that is, in our opinion, is lacking throughout the country and throughout the region of West Africa,’ he said.