BAMAKO, Mali, April 18 (UPI) -- Five aid workers kidnapped in northern Mali by presumed Islamic militants in February were freed by French troops, the presidents of France and Mali said in a joint statement.
The five, four of whom were employed by the Red Cross, are in good health and were released in a raid near the town of Timbuktu, the statement said.
At the time of their abduction it was reported they were kidnapped by the Mujao Islamist militant group, one of the groups ousted by French forces from towns in northern Mali. The statement Friday said the aid workers were taken on Feb. 8 by a “terrorist group” but did not identify the group.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita used the statement to express his gratitude “for France’s commitment to Mali since 2013.”
A rebellion by the Tuareg tribe in 2012 began the process that triggered a military coup in Mali, allowing Islamist militants to overtake a number of towns, which they held for nearly a year before intervention by French and West African military forces.