, NIAMEY, Nov 3 – Five African aid workers who were kidnapped in Niger in mid-October have been freed alive and a sixth has died from his wounds, the aid groups that employed them said on Saturday.
Five Niger nationals “were freed today and are currently in Niger,” while their colleague from Chad has “died from his wounds,” Niger’s Befen and Chad’s Alerte-Sante said in a statement.
The groups did not specify how the hostages were freed.
One of the freed aid workers said the kidnapping was carried out by the armed Islamist group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Al-Qaeda-backed groups that have seized control of northern Mali.
“We were kidnapped by people from MUJAO. They thought there was a white person with us,” the freed hostage told AFP by phone from the Niger-Mali border.
Mali was plunged into chaos by a March 22 coup that ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, creating a power vacuum that enabled several Al-Qaeda-linked groups including MUJAO to seize control of the country’s vast desert north.