Sunday, April 29, 2012

PoliticsMali: Transitional govt: Kidnapped Swiss Christian woman released in Timbuktu

Kidnapped Swiss Christian Freed Amid 

Mali’s Unrest

Kidnapped Swiss Christian Freed Amid Mali’s Unrest
Rebels release Beatrice Stockly as country forms transitional government.

04/27/2012 Mali (CDN)-Separatist Islamist rebels released a Swiss Christian woman 
kidnapped by a private militia on April 15 amid political turmoil in Timbuktu, Mali, 
according to a Swiss foreign ministry statement.

Armed members of the militant Islamic group Ansar Dine handed Beatrice Stockly to 
Swiss diplomats on Tuesday (April 24), Reuters reported.

Before rebels captured Timbuktu on April 1, most Westerners had reportedly left due to 
fears of being kidnapped and passed on to Al-Qaeda cells. The terrorist group’s North 
African branch, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has been holding Westerners 
for millions of dollars in ransom payments from previous kidnappings in recent years.

Stockly, a Christian social worker in her 40s, had refused to leave Timbuktu, 705 kilometers 
(439 miles) northeast of the capital, when it fell to Tuareg rebels and Islamist extremists. She 
was in good health “considering the circumstances,” according to the Swiss foreign ministry 

The Tuareg are a nomadic Berber people and are the main indigenous inhabitants of 
interior Sahara in northern Africa.

Ansar Dine militants took custody of Stockly after a shootout with an unidentified 
private militia that had seized her and wanted to sell her to AQIM. Ansar Dine, 
which has imposed sharia (Islamic law) in areas under its control in the north, then
 handed Stockly to the Swiss government without demanding a ransom, according to 
Agence France-Presse. Stockly is reportedly safe in Burkina Faso.

Following an army coup on March 22 and political chaos that ensued, Tuareg separatists 
and Islamist rebels captured the country’s vast desert north, calling it the Republic of 
Azawad. The devastation amid the conflict has driven nearly 260,000 Malians living in 
the northern regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu to seek safety in the south and 
surrounding countries, according to sources.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands in an online statement on 
Tuesday (April 24), said it may launch investigations into crimes against humanity and 
war crimes committed in Mali, including killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of
Among those who fled the north are hundreds of Christians, most of whom have found 
shelter in the capital, Bamako, in southern Mali. Local sources estimate about 300 Christians 
have fled to Bamako. Local churches are working together to care for them, but an area 
Christian told Compass by phone that the Christians had to leave their homes and properties 
and are “empty-handed.”

“There have been difficulties for Christians in the north,” said the source, a Malian. “All of 
them have left that region for the south. By the grace of God, there were no deaths. Everyone 
is safe. But it is difficult for those who left their homes. They have many needs. We don’t 
know if the situation will continue, but we are hoping for the re-establishment of peace.”
The Christian said he had not heard of any Christian being beheaded.

The source requested anonymity, pointing out that various extremist Islamic groups are 
active in the area and surrounding countries. He said that revealing his name would lead 
to harassment of churches with which he is affiliated, especially at a time when the 
government’s power is substantially weakened.

He asked for prayer for all displaced Malians and for peace in the north.
“We don’t want violence,” he said. “We want a spirit of well-being between all the people 
groups of Mali… [pray] that a government will be put in place and take things in their 
hands in good governance.”

On Wednesday (April 25), leaders appointed after the military junta agreed to stand down 
finally formed a transitional government that includes three army representatives, according 
to Al Jazeera. One of the new government’s greatest challenges will be to resolve the crisis 
in the north.

No comments: