A Tuareg separatist says an Islamic extremist group has claimed responsibility for kidnapping three International Committee of the Red Cross staffers in north Mali.

The separatist group member says before the kidnapping by the jihadist Ansar Dine group, French soldiers stopped the team near Abeibara, detaining its guide and the guide's apprentice.

He said the three staffers were then kidnapped by Ansar Dine near Kidal, and the jihadis say they will free the staffers if French forces free the guide and apprentice.

The separatist is in contact with Ansar Dine, and spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak to the press.

Valery Mbaoh Nana, an ICRC spokesman in Bamako, said the staffers went missing Saturday, but his organization hasn't received such a claim, or demands.