abducted passengersPresident Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the 19 abducted passengers were freed without prisoner swap and denied the government has paid any ransom to the militants.

The anti-government armed militants released 19 of the 31 abducted passengers and were handed over to the local authorities in Jaghoori district of southeastern Ghazni province.

This comes as a member of the provincial council Asadullah Kakar said earlier that the hostages were released in exchange of 22 Uzbeks including women and children.

President Ghani said the government’s policy does not allow prisoner swap and no detainee who is serving for his crime has been freed in exchange of the abducted passengers release.

He said a number of children were swapped in exchange for the release of the hostages.

According to President Ghani the children were family members of a number of foreign militants who had taken refuge in Badakhshan caves and were killed after they detonated explosives while humanitarian workers approached to assist them during the winter time.

President Ghani also added that the government is working to free the remaining abducted passengers but did not elaborate further.

The 31 passengers were abducted by the anti-government armed militants while they were travelling in two buses in southern Zabul province in the month of February.