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Kidnapped Mali election workers freed

Gunmen have freed four election workers a day after they were kidnapped in Mali.

French army soldiers stand on armoured vehicles as they leave Bamako and start their deployment to the north of Mali as part of the "Serval" operations on January 2013. Picture: AFP

BAMAKO - Gunmen have freed four election workers and a deputy mayor a day after they were kidnapped in Mali's remote northern town of Tessalit, a local official said on Sunday.

The kidnapping, a week before Election Day, highlighted insecurity hanging over the vote that is intended to draw a line under a coup and Islamist uprising, although some fear it could lead to further instability due to poor preparations.

"The five hostages were picked up this morning by French soldiers outside the town. We do not know what led to them being freed," Cheick Fanta Mady Bouare, the prefet of Tessalit, told Reuters.

France sent troops to Mali early this year to fight the Islamist rebels.