Mali released 180 prisoners over the weekend who are alleged members of a terrorist group, according to an official.

Seventy prisoners on Saturday and 110 on Sunday were flown to the country’s north from a prison in the capital Bamako, said the official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Their release has fuelled speculation that Mali’s main opposition party leader Soumaila Cisse, who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in March along with six members of his team while he was campaigning, could soon be freed after being held for more than six months.

Cisse was campaigning in central Mali ahead of legislative elections on March 29 not far from Timbuktu at the time of his abduction.

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