A Spanish aid worker freed by Islamist militants in Mali was flying home Wednesday while an Italian woman was still in Al Qaeda's clutches after earlier reports of her release, sources said.
"It is only the Spanish hostage who was released. There was a small confusion, the Italian was not released," a diplomatic source said in Bamako after earlier announcing both had been freed.
A source close to the Burkina Faso presidency said Alicia Gamez, 39, one of three Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania, was flying to Spain after a brief stopover in the capital Ouagadougou.
"She is safe and sound. At this moment she is traveling to Barcelona with a family member," Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega told a news conference, where she lauded Spain's diplomats and intelligence services.
The diplomatic source in Mali said, "The Burkina Faso-Italian national has not been freed. Only the Spanish has been freed and a plane came to fetch her in Ougadougou, she has left."
Sources close to the negotiation process said that the Italian woman Philomene Kaboure, of Burkina Faso descent, had in the past refused to be freed, preferring to remain behind with her Italian husband Sergio Cicala, 65.
"We are continuing discussions for her release," the diplomatic source added.