A missionary who was kidnapped four year ago and held hostage in West Africa is dead after being killed by her captors.
Beatrice Stöckli was an evangelical missionary from Switzerland who disappeared after being kidnapped four years ago in Mali, reports Evangelical Focus. She was also kidnapped and released in 2012.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) reports she was killed by those holding her hostage, an Islamist terrorist organization known as JNIM.
The FDFA was informed of Stöckli's death by the French authorities through an aid worker who was recently released by the same terrorist group along with a politician (a member of the Malian opposition) and two Italians.
Diese Nachricht aus Mali 🇲🇱 macht mich sehr betroffen. Ich verurteile diese grausame Tat. Meine Gedanken sind jetzt bei den Angehörigen. https://t.co/qeGYE3qQhh— Ignazio Cassis (@ignaziocassis) October 9, 2020
"She was apparently killed by kidnappers of the Islamist terrorist organization Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslim (JNIM) about a month ago," the FDFA says.
JNIM is one of the most brutal militia groups in the African Sahel. The group is composed of former Al-Qaeda branch AQMI members and members of the Ansar al-Islam group.
These terrorist groups have fought against Christians and those from the Western part of the globe in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad for years.
Stöckli was abducted in 2012, prior to her most recent imprisonment. Initially, Stöckli first arrived in Timbuktu, Mali with Neues Leben Ghana (New Life Ghana), a Germany-based mission group.
A few years later, she decided to work alone to teach children how to read and write. Stöckli wanted to use fairy tales and children's stories, as well as parts of the Koran that spoke about Jesus, according to Livenet, a Swiss news website.
The jihadist group Ansar Dine abducted Stöckli in April 2012. A preacher at a neighbouring mosque denounced her as a missionary and Stöckli was dragged into the desert. There, she was tortured and her life was threatened in an attempt to force the missionary to deny Christ and convert to Islam.
The government of Burkina Faso stepped in and Stöckli was released thanks to mediation efforts after nine days. Even after her kidnapping, Stöckli returned to Timbuktu to continue to minister to people there.
In January 2016, Agence France-Presse reported that Stöckli had armed men knock at her door, which she opened.
"They left with her," the news organization reported of Stöckli's 2016 kidnapping.
In Gedanken und unseren Gebeten sind wir bei den Angehörigen der in Mali umgebrachten Missionarin Beatrice Stöckli aus...Posted by Peter Schneeberger on Saturday, October 10, 2020
Along with hostaegs from France, Italy, and Mali, Stöckli was taken by JNIM members and held for four years, until her recent death.
Over the past four years, Stöckli appeared in several videos where she asked for help from her government for release and for the government to release AQMI jihadists currently imprisoned in Mali.
The hostages who were freed say Stöckli was dragged by members of JNIM into a gravel hollow in the stone desert, where she was killed.
The FDFA is working to find out more about how Stöckli died and where her remains are located and states they will approach Mali's transitional government about the matter. Switzerland will work to preserve Stöckli's remains, the FDFA reports.
Swiss authorities say they have "worked over the past four years to ensure (Stöckli) is released and can return to her family. Members of the Federal Council have personally and repeatedly lobbied the relevant Malian authorities for her release."
Peter Schneeberger, president of the Association of Free Churches of Switzerland, took to Facebook to share his condolences.
"In our thoughts and prayers, we are with the relatives of the Mali missionary Beatrice Stöckli from Basel," says Schneeberger.
Federal councillor Ignazio Cassis speaks of the loss on Twitter.
"This news from Mali makes me very concerned. I condemn this cruel act. My thoughts are now with the relatives," Cassis says.
Mali is listed as the 29th country in the world on Open Doors' World Watch List for the persecution of Christians.