Three Christian Missionary Hostages Appear Video Released by Al-Qaeda-Linked Extremists

Jul 05, 2017 10:37 AM EDT

Three Christian missionaries have appeared in a video released by coalition of jihadist groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda urging their respective governments to "do what they can" to negotiate their release.

According to the US-based monitoring group SITE, the undated footage was posted over the weekend by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims).

"No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children," a narrator on the proof of life video begins.

In the video, six foreign hostages, including three missionaries from Colombia, Switzerland and Australia, are shown begging the international community for help.

"This video is to ask various governments, in particular the Australian government and Burkina government, to do what they can to help negotiate my release," said 82-year-old Australian surgeon Ken Elliott. Addressing his family, he added: "I just want to say, again, I love you all and I appreciate all your prayers and all your cares. I look forward to one day being reunited."

According to World Watch Monitor, Elliott was kidnapped in January 2016, along with his wife, Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. The couple were taken on the same day that AQIM killed 29 in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, including six Canadian Christians doing humanitarian work and a US missionary.

Elliott was released a month later, but her husband was detained.

Colombian nun Gloria Argoti, who was kidnapped in February when Muslim extremists broke into her convent in Mali, also appears in the video along with Swiss missionary Béatrice Stockly, who was kidnapped in Mali's northern town of Timbuktu last year. Stockly, who is in her forties, was previously abducted by jihadists in 2012.

The other hostages seen in the video are Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, and Sophie Petronin of France.

The release of the video coincided with a visit to Mali by French president Emmanuel Macron, who said said he was pleased that one of his citizens was still alive after being kidnapped by the militants.

"These people are nothing," Macron said of the jihadists. "They are terrorists, thugs and assassins. And we will put all of our energies into eradicating them."

According to reports, a video was released in March announcing the creation of Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen from a merger of three extremist groups: the Al-Qaeda -linked al-Mourabitoun, Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for last month's attack on a resort area popular with foreigners outside Mali's capital that killed at least five people, and a number of the hostages in Mali have been held for years.

According to Time, the video comes after Sweden's government on Monday announced the release of Johan Gustafsson, who was held by Islamic extremists in Mali for six years.