Map of Mali, Africa
Map of Mali, Africa

BAMAKO - A senior government official in Mali, abducted by suspected jihadists last May, has been freed in a security operation, an official source told AFP Tuesday.

Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou -- a commune in central Mali -- "was freed Monday thanks to an action by state security", or Mali's intelligence service, a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Doumbia, the most senior government representative in the commune, was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year.

He is now receiving intensive care in the capital Bamako, said the source, who refused to comment on claims that Doumbia was freed under a prisoner exchange.

A son of the official, who declined to give his full name, also confirmed the prefect had been released.

"I was able to speak to my father. He is very tired. But the most important thing is that he is free. I am very happy," said the son.

However, at Toguere-Koumbe elsewhere in the Mopti region, four hostages taken by suspected jihadists were killed last week, according to another security source and Kisal, a rights group for nomadic communities.

Kisal announced on its Facebook page Monday that suspected jihadists had killed four members of the Bozo ethnic group whom they had taken hostage.

A security source, who did not want to identified, confirmed that "four civilian hostages of terrorists" were found dead at Toguere at the weekend.

Islamist militias linked to Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali in 2012, but were pushed back by French troops the following year.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability. But the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.