Rebels free 9 hostages in southern Senegal

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (AP) — An official in southern Senegal says rebels have freed nine employees of a South African bomb disposal company who were taken hostage in May.

Cheikh Tidiane Dieng, governor of the Ziguinchor region, says the employees were released Friday afternoon at a location along the border between Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. He says they will be transferred to Senegal in a ceremony Saturday.

Dieng said he did not know if a ransom was paid.

The nine were part of a group of 12 people working to clear mines for the company Denel Mechem who were kidnapped on May 3 by the MFDC rebel group. The rebels have been waging a low-level insurgency in the southern Casamance region for more than a decade.

Three women among the group were released in late May.

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