DAKAR, Senegal — Gunmen abducted and killed two French radio journalists on assignment in northern Mali on Saturday, French and Malian officials said, grabbing the pair as they left the home of a rebel leader.

The deaths come four days after France rejoiced at the release of four of its citizens who had been held for three years by al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa.

It was not immediately clear who had slain the Radio France Internationale journalists. France launched a military intervention in January in its former colony to try and oust jihadists from power in Kidal and other towns across northern Mali. Separatist rebels have since returned to the area.

French President Francois Hollande expressed his “indignation at this odious act.”

Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were grabbed by several armed men in a 4×4 after they finished an interview, officials said.

Their bodies were later dumped a dozen miles outside the town on the road leading to Tinessako, a community to the east of Kidal, according to a person who saw the bodies and four officials briefed on the matter.

Earlier Saturday, radio station RFI confirmed the kidnappings on its website, saying that Dupont, 51, and Verlon, 58, were taken at 1 p.m. by armed men in Kidal and had not been heard from since. RFI described the pair as professionals with long experience in challenging areas.