UK & World News
Afghanistan Frees Suspected Taliban Militants
The US has strongly criticised the release of 65 alleged Taliban fighters from an Afghan prison, warning that they continue to pose a serious security threat.
The US embassy described the decision to push ahead with the prisoner release as "deeply regrettable," adding that it could lead to further attacks in the war-torn country.
It warned: "The Afghan government bears responsibility for the results of its decision.
"We urge it to make every effort to ensure that those released do not commit new acts of violence and terror."
Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi confirmed on Thursday that the 65 detainees were freed from the Parwan Detention Facility near Afghanistan's capital Kabul, just after 9am local time.
Prison spokesman Maj. Nimatullah Khaki said they boarded the bus laughing and smiling.
President Hamid Karzai approved the release several weeks ago after his government took over the detention centre from US troops.
The United States military argued that the suspects should face trial in an Afghan court.
On Wednesday it issued a strongly-worded statement, warning that several of the prisoners were suspected of carrying out attacks on international and Afghan forces.
It said: "Detainees from this group of 65 are directly linked to attacks killing or wounding 32 US or coalition personnel and 23 Afghan security personnel or civilians."
The military claimed there was DNA evidence linking several of them to roadside bombs and explosive residue on their clothing.
But Afghanistan said there was not enough evidence against them.
The release is likely to further strain US-Afghan relations ahead of the planned withdrawal of most international combat troops at the end of the year.
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