Afghan official says 19 Hazara hostages freed in exchange for 22 Uzbeks in the country

A provincial official in Afghanistan says kidnappers have been released 19 Hazara hostages kidnapped in February in exchange for 22 Uzbeks in the country.

Asadullah Kakar, a provincial council member in southern Zabul province, says that the exchange took place in Jaghori district of Ghazni province around 9:30 a.m. (0500 GMT, 1 a.m. EDT) Monday.

Kakar says that the exchanged 22 people, including women and children, probably are family members of the kidnappers. He says the kidnappers asked for another six more people in exchange for the remaining 11 Hazara hostages they hold.

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

The Hazara are a Shiite ethnic group in Afghanistan. Authorities initially blamed an affiliate of the Islamic State group for their kidnapping in February.