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Islamic extremists in Mali release captured aid workers

Three employees of the Red Cross have been freed after being kidnapped over the weekend. The trio was kidnapped by an extremist group allied with al Qaeda.

The three workers, employed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), were in Mali on Saturday when they were kidnapped by members of the Ansar Dine group, an ally of al Qaeda.

According to The Associated Press, the three were traveling near the village of Abeibarra with two guides when they were stopped by French soldiers. The guides were detained, but the aid workers were allowed to pass. Later, however, the the three themselves were kidnapped by members of Ansar Dine, who were demanding the release of the guides.

Following their release on Saturday, Peter Maurer, the president of ICRC, expressed his relief on Twitter.

Mali, in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world and has suffered from political instability since an armed conflict between government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in 2012. The Tuareg uprising was later hijacked by Ansar Dine, which took over much of the northern part of the country, but was dispersed following a French military intervention in 2013.

The German government also has troops stationed there as part of a training mission.

blc/msh (AP, Reuters)

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