• Switzerland's news in English
 
moving_to_switz_header

Swiss hostage released in Mali

Published: 24 Apr 2012 16:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Apr 2012 17:50 GMT+02:00

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 1st.

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 on 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 22nd 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 on 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 on 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 5th 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.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in
The town of Le Locle is a watchmaking centre. Photo: Neuchatel Tourism

Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in

Burglars have stolen a number of valuable items from the watch museum in Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel, just two months after a similar incident in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds. READ  

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok
The Thai Airways flight continued to Bangkok. Photo: Faisal Akram

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok

Passengers on a flight from Zurich to Bangkok were forced to tie up a drunk Swiss man who caused a fracas during the journey. READ  

Solar Impulse
Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding
The solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii. Photo: Eugene Tanner/AFP

Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding

The team behind the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 plane, piloted by two Swiss men, said on Tuesday that it needed an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) to complete a historic round-the-world flight after battery damage grounded it for months. READ  

Le Locle epidemic due to E.Coli in water supply
Residents are advised to avoid drinking the water in Le Locle. Photo: Neuchatel Tourism

Le Locle epidemic due to E.Coli in water supply

Authorities in Swiss watchmaking town Le Locle, where a mystery stomach bug has laid low up to 1,000 residents, have confirmed the presence of E.Coli bacteria in the water supply. READ  

Swiss equestrians ride again after drugs appeal
Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets compete in La Baule in May. Photo: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP

Swiss equestrians ride again after drugs appeal

Swiss rider Steve Guerdat, the individual show jumping gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, is free to compete again after the international equestrian federation (FEI) announced on Monday they would lift a provisional ban. READ  

EXPAT GUIDE | Presented by Greenback
Taxes in Switzerland: the easy way
Photo: MoneyImages/Flickr

Taxes in Switzerland: the easy way

Tax season is daunting enough at home – let alone in a foreign country. That’s why expats David and Carrie McKeegan started Greenback, the tax company designed specifically for American expats. The Local talked to the couple about how to handle taxes in Switzerland. READ  

Calm Paléo festival sees decrease in crime
David Guetta brought the festival to a close. Photo: L Flusin/Paleo

Calm Paléo festival sees decrease in crime

The 40th edition of Nyon’s Paléo festival came to an end on Sunday on a positive note, with no major incidents and an overall reduction in crime, according to figures released on Monday by Vaud cantonal police. READ  

'Resilient' UBS bounces back with big profits
Photo: The Local

'Resilient' UBS bounces back with big profits

UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, on Monday posted second quarter profits of 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.25 billion, 1.1 billion euros), a 53 percent rise over the same period last year, which beat expectations. READ  

Two men arrested over Yverdon hitchhiker death
Police arrested the suspects at Yverdon train station. Photo: Roland Zumbuhl (picswiss)

Two men arrested over Yverdon hitchhiker death

Two suspects are being held in custody after the battered body of a 53-year-old man was found near the port of Yverdon-les-Bains in the early hours of Friday, Vaud cantonal police announced on Sunday. READ  

Mystery stomach bug hits Swiss watch capital
The Unesco World Heritage Site of Le Locle is Switzerland's third smallest city. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Mystery stomach bug hits Swiss watch capital

Residents of the Swiss city of Le Locle, world famous for its watch production, have been laid low by a nasty infection with authorities warning people not to drink the water. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
National
Swiss army airlifts water to thirsty cows
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Army chief
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
Geneva's revolutionary marketing education
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
National
New survey ranks Zurich Europe's priciest city for expatriates
National
Quarter of residents in Switzerland 'have multiple homes'
Features
Veggie lovers and 'flexitarians' challenge Swiss meat-eating habits
National
Forest officials struggle to save Switzerland's dying ash trees
Education
Historian finds ancient Egyptian papyrus texts in Basel uni library
National
Seven large Swiss employers back 'flexible work' charter
National
Basel police rescue of ducks forces closure of A2 motorway
National
Mother and daughter die as rain storms lash central Switzerland
Sport
'Stan the man' Wawrinka: French Open triumph 'completely crazy'
Culture
Expat's Zurich 'then and now' video shows how little the city has changed
National
Phoney Geneva police officers rob tourists and UN staff
Sport
Blatter's abrupt resignation seen as a 'stunning capitulation'
Features
Cleanup crews head to ski resorts to keep Swiss mountains tidy
Culture
Interlaken museum showcases works by Picasso using Caran d'Ache pencils
National
Low interest rates give tenants right to seek rent reductions in Switzerland
Sport
Switzerland's Blatter fends off critics to win fifth term as Fifa president
National
Agricultural researchers discover why Swiss cheese has holes
Culture
Swiss filmmaker returns home to shoot 'gender-fluid' film in Ticino
Features
Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent 150 years ago
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

4,246
jobs available