The north African wing of al Qaeda has freed two Spanish hostages as part of a deal involving the release of a prisoner.
The release of the pair was linked to Mauritania's repatriation to Mali of a man who had been convicted of the kidnapping of three Spanish aid workers, including the two hostages.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb says it was behind the kidnapping of the three Spaniards in Mali last November. It freed one of them in March.
The group sought a ransom of $US5 million and the release of imprisoned Islamist fighters for the release of the other two.