NIAMEY: An elderly Australian woman kidnapped with her husband last month in Burkina Faso by a group affiliated to al Qaeda has been freed, neighbouring Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said on Saturday.

Issoufou presented the woman, Jocelyn Elliott, at a news conference in Dosso, southwestern Niger, and said authorities were intensifying efforts to secure the release of her husband. The pair, who are in their 80s, were seized on Jan. 15.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said on Friday it had kidnapped the couple and would release the woman unconditionally due to public pressure and guidance from al Qaeda leaders not to involve women in war. The circumstances of her release and how she arrived in Niger were not immediately clear. Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked the governments of Niger and Burkina Faso for their assistance and confirmed that his government had spoken with Jocelyn Elliott following her release, in a televised interview early on Sunday.

"We continue to cooperate with those governments and we thank them for their efforts," Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from the capital, Canberra.

For over 40 years, Dr. Ken Elliott and his wife have operated a 120-bed clinic in the town of Djibo near Burkina Faso's border with Mali.

They were abducted from the town the same day al Qaeda fighters raided a restaurant and hotel in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, and killed 30 people, many of whom were foreigners.