LOME/NIAMEY (Reuters) - Three foreign hostages were freed on Friday more than five months after they were kidnapped in Niger and held hostage by Al-Qaedas North African wing, officials said. A Togolese government minister said in Lome that a Togolese and a Malagasy man had been freed. Two sources with knowledge of the situation said a French woman had also been freed. The three were part of a group of seven foreigners seized in the northern Nigerien uranium mining town of Arlit in September in an attack that marked an escalation of the extremists threat in West Africas desert regions. There was no news on the fate of the other four French hostages. The Togolese government is immensely happy to announce that our compatriot Alex Kodjo Ahunadou has at last been freed, Pascal Bodjona, Togos interior minister, told reporters. Bodjona said the Malagasy hostage had also been freed on Friday morning but gave no further details. A Niger security source and another source in Paris said the Frenchwoman had also been freed. The increased risk of kidnappings, either by the Islamists themselves or local gunmen cooperating with them, has made large tracts of Mauritania, Mali and Niger no-go areas for Westerners. An Italian woman kidnapped in Algeria in early February is also being held by the Islamists. Western nations led by France and the United States are trying to improve regional cooperation, but efforts have been undermined by a lack of resources, regional rivalries and a degree of local complicity.