A spokesman for a militant Islamic group in north Mali says a Swiss woman taken hostage just over a week ago has been freed.

Senda Ould Boumama said Tuesday that the woman who had been working as a missionary in Timbuktu was put on a helicopter at the airport that was headed for Burkina Faso.

The group Ansar Dine said Sunday that she had ultimately ended up in their custody and they wanted to hand her over to Swiss authorities. Ansar Dine refused to give details about how the woman had come to be in their hands.

Two main groups now appear to be competing to govern northern Mali: Ansar Dine, which wants to see Sharia law brought to Mali, and separatist rebels who already have declared an independent state.