Officials in Niger say five African aid workers who were kidnapped by suspected al-Qaida militants last month have been freed.
The aid groups BEFEN and Health Alert say the workers were freed on Saturday near Niger's border with Mali. They say a sixth worker who had been kidnapped with the group was shot during the abduction and later died from his wounds.
Officials in Niger say the kidnappers are suspected to be Islamist extremists based in Mali, who have been linked to a string of abductions.
Mali plunged into chaos in March after a military coup toppled President Amadou Toure and led to the formation of an interim government.
Militants who seized the country's northern region have been trying to enforce a strict version of Islamic law.
In October, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that clears the way for deployment of forces from the West African bloc ECOWAS. The regional group has proposed sending about 3,000 troops into Mali.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.