Six troops held by a rebel group in the tiny East African state of Djibouti have been freed, the rebels and neighbouring Ethiopia, which played a part in their release, said on Wednesday.

The six went missing after an attack on a base at Garabtisan, in the north of the country, on October 7 in which seven others were killed.

The defence minister pinned the attack on the “Armed FRUD,” the armed wing of the Front for the Return of Unity and Democracy, which he called a “terrorist group.”

In a statement received by AFP, the group said, “not wishing to prolong the suffering and anxiety of the families of the captive soldiers, and not seeking to detain Djiboutian citizens indefinitely, we have decided to hand over the soldiers in our hands… to the Ethiopian authorities.”

The Ethiopian foreign ministry issued a statement quoting its ambassador, saying “the army members were handed over to the government of Djibouti.”

“Ethiopia and Djibouti are working together to enhance cooperation in peace and security,” it said.

FRUD draws its supporters mainly from the Afar community in the north of Djibouti.

It launched an insurgency against the government in 1991, saying it was defending the Afar from the region’s other large community, the Issa.

The organisation then splintered into a political wing, which is part of the governing UMP coalition that supports President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, and an armed wing.

Djibouti, formerly known as French Somaliland, is located on the coast of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Its strategic location overlooking vital shipping lanes has enabled it to play host to foreign military bases, including large French and US facilities.