70 year-old Malian opposition leader, Soumaila Cisse, and 75 year-old French aid worker Sophie Petronin, were among four hostages to have been released by suspected fighters, Mali’s presidency said. Al Jazeera reports that Italian hostages, Nicola Chiacchio and Pier Luigi Maccalli, were also freed on Thursday, following the freeing by Malian authorities of nearly 200 suspected fighters over the weekend, which had fuelled speculation that a prisoner exchange was imminent.