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Official Says 19 Hazara Hostages Freed In Eastern Afghanistan

Protesters asked the government to take action for releasing 31 Hazara hostages captured in Afghanistan's Zabul Province.

A provincial official in Afghanistan says kidnappers have released 19 Hazara hostages abducted in February in exchange for 22 people.

Ata Jan Haqbaya, a provincial council member in southern Zabul Province, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the exchange took place in Jaghori district of Ghazni Province on May 11.

Another local official, Asadullah Kakar, said the exchanged 22 people are foreigners and include women and children, probably family members of the kidnappers.

He says the kidnappers asked for another six more Uzbeks in exchange for the remaining 11 Hazara hostages they hold.

It wasn't immediately clear how the foreigners came into government custody.

The 30 Hazara men, members of the minority Hazara ethnic group, were abducted on February 23 on the road between the southern city of Kandahar and the capital, Kabul.

Authorities initially blamed an affiliate of the Islamic State group for their kidnapping.