Al-Qaeda’s Mali branch has released a video of six foreign hostages, including Swiss missionary worker Beatrice Stöckli, US-based monitoring group SITE has said.
The 16 minute, 50 second undated video by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the “Group to Support Islam and Muslims”, was released on Telegram on Saturday, SITEexternal link said. The group was formed in March by several armed Islamist groups in Mali, including Ansar Dine, Al Mourabitoun and the Emirate of Sahara, part of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Stöckli, also known as Stockly in some media reports, was kidnapped in Mali in January 2016, for a second time.
The video shows each of the hostages individually. At the end of the film, while not spelling out any demands the narrator tells the hostages' families "no genuine negotiations have begun" for their release but then adds that negotiations are "still active".
It was released shortly before the French president Emmanuel Macron arrived in the West African country for an anti-terror summit. One of the hostages is French.
Foreign ministry “aware of video”
The Swiss foreign ministryexternal link told the Swiss news agency on Sunday that it was aware of the video. Switzerland calls for the unconditional release of the Swiss missionary, it said.
Stöckli was also present in a video released by AQIM in January 2017, in which she said she was in good health.
The Basel native was taken on January 7, 2016, after armed men knocked at her home. Stöckli had been living in a very simple fashion, in a one-room house with a garden, going around as a missionary and helping children in the neighbourhood.
Back in 2012, Ansar Dine captured Stöckli for nine days and then let her go. A short time later Stöckli was back in Timbuktu, living in the same community and working with the same children.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj