DAKAR (Reuters) - Nine Senegalese working for a demining organization were freed on Friday in Guinea-Bissau after being held captive by separatist rebels in Senegal's restive southern region of Casamance, the state news agency reported.

The nine were part of a group of 12 employees of South African demining firm Mechem kidnapped by a faction of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance on May 4.

"They were released and handed over to a Guinea Bissau-based NGO who will hand them to Bissau authorities," Senegal's state news agency APS said. "They will later be transferred to Senegalese officials at the border on Saturday."

On May 29, the rebels released three women who were kidnapped with the group.

The Casamance rebels have waged a 31-year low-level insurgency for independence in Senegal's southern border region with Guinea-Bissau.

The conflict is largely dormant but there are sporadic flare-ups between rebels and Senegal's army. Banditry and drug trafficking are common in the isolated region, which was once a major tourist destination.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Editing by Bate Felix)