Two abducted polling officials freed in north Mali

People seeking refuge from Tuareg separatist rebel group MNLA display a Malian flag in a military camp in the northern town of Kidal, July 17, 2013.

BAMAKO, Mali - Two polling officials who were abducted in the northern Malian town of Tessalit have been released, an official at the ministry for territorial administration told AFP.

"Two of the agents have been released overnight Saturday to Sunday. They are currently free and not far from Tessalit", said the official, who had no information on the circumstances of the duo's release.

There was no immediate news on three other polling agents and a local official who were kidnapped at the same time, just over a week ahead of presidential elections in the country.

The six officials had been at the town hall in Tessalit, a remote town some 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the flashpoint northern city of Kidal, to plan the distribution of identity cards to registered voters when they were abducted.

The kidnapping came just days after four people were killed in Kidal in violence between minority Tuaregs and the majority black population.

The July 28 election is seen as crucial to re-uniting a country that remains shaken after a March 2012 military coup and a sweeping offensive by Tuareg rebels and their Islamist allies, who captured the entire north before being flushed out with the help of French troops.