- Two Austrians held hostage in Mali since February while on holiday in Tunisia have been freed, authorities have confirmed.
Andrea Kloiber, and Wolfgang Ebner, who disappeared in February are believed to have been held by al Qaeda's North African wing in a remote part of Mali deep in the Sahara.
Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik says Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber were freed and are in the hands of military in Mali. It was unclear what circumstances led to the pair's release on Friday.
"Special envoy Anton Prohaska told me today that Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber were set free by their captors last night after 252 days," Ms Plassnik said.
Kidnap victims are in relatively good health, according to Mali authorities, and would soon be met by Austrian officials in Bamako, ministry said.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom payment and release of 10 militants being held in Algeria and Tunisia in return for releasing the pair.
According to Malian authorities, deadline for demands to be met was pushed back several times in March and April. But after that, public news on negotiations went quiet after assurances from Austrian officials that pair was alive and talks were continuing.
Al Qaeda had warned that any attempt to launch a military operation to free the captives could result in their death.
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