News24

Swiss hostage released in Mali

2012-04-24 16:11

Timbuktu - A Swiss woman abducted last week in rebel-held Timbuktu in northern Mali was freed on Tuesday and handed over to the security services of Burkina Faso, an AFP journalist reported.

After arriving aboard a pick-up truck wearing a black dress and turban, Beatrice Stockly removed the garments before boarding a helicopter that had left Burkina Faso early on Tuesday.

Stockly was the last Westerner living in Timbuktu and refused to leave after the legendary desert city fell to the Islamist Ansar Dine rebels on April 1.

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.