Mali group ready to free Swiss hostage: security source
Posted Sunday, April 22 2012 at 18:41
A Swiss woman abducted last week in rebel-held Timbuktu in northern Mali has been snatched from her captors by armed Islamists who want to free her, several security sources said Sunday.
"On Saturday two armed groups clashed in the Timbuktu region over the Swiss hostage. One group was detaining her and the other wanted to free her," said a security source, based in a country neighbouring Mali.
A separate security source inside Timbuktu said the woman, Beatrice Stockly, had orginally been in the hands of "a private militia that had planned to re-sell her to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)."
Two sources in Timbuktu, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was the Islamist group Ansar Dine who had battled the kidnappers for Stockly, and having successfuly seized her, were prepared to free her.
Stockly is in her 40s and was snatched last week in Timbuktu which fell into the hands of different armed groups after a coup in the south allowed rebels to capture the country's vast north.
She was the last westerner still living there, having refused to leave after the Ansar Dine Islamist movement, with the help of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), took control of the city on April 1.
Since seizing the fabled city, Ansar Dine has set about implementing sharia law.
AQIM, which has bases in the north of Mali, operates across the Sahel region and is currently holding several European hostages.