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19 of 31 Afghan hostages freed

Kabul : At least 19 Afghan hostages out of 31 passengers, who were kidnapped in late February, were released on Monday, an official source said.

“Following days of local elders’ mediation, 19 passengers were freed and they were handed over by the kidnappers in Pahtoo area of Jaghori district in eastern Ghazni province on Monday morning,” the district governor Zafar Sharif told Xinhua news agency.

Efforts are on to secure the safe release of 12 other captives, the official noted.

The 31 passengers were abducted by unidentified armed men, possibly militants loyal to the Taliban outfit, from two vehicles on the Kabul-Kandahar highway in the neighbouring Zabul province on February 24 and taken to an undisclosed location.

The official did not provide details. However, unofficial sources said the hostages have been freed in exchange for the release of militants.