April 29, 2012
Separatist Islamist rebels released a Swiss Christian woman kidnapped by a private militia on April 15 amid turmoil in Timbuktu, Mali, Compass Direct News reports. Beatrice Stockly, a Christian social worker in her 40s, had refused to leave Timbuktu when Tuareg rebels and Islamic extremists captured it on April 1, despite the fact that most Westerners had left due to fears of being kidnapped and passed on to al Qaeda cells that have a history of holding Westerners for millions of dollars in ransom payments. Armed members of the Islamist group Ansar Dine took custody of Stockly after a shootout with an unidentified private militia that had seized her and wanted to sell her to al Qaeda's North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ansar Dine, which has imposed sharia (Islamic law) in areas under its control in northern Mali, then handed Stockly to the Swiss government on April 24 without demanding a ransom. Stockly is now reportedly safe in Burkina Faso.