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Afghanistan set to free ‘dangerous’ fighters

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Kabul - Afghanistan was set to release scores of alleged Taliban fighters from jail on Thursday despite the United States saying the men posed a threat to Nato and Afghan forces.

The release of the 65 men from Bagram prison has become a focus point of the increasingly bitter relationship between Kabul and Washington as US-led troops prepare to withdraw after 13 years fighting Taliban militants.

Ahead of the planned release, the US military said that the men were “dangerous individuals” directly linked to attacks killing or wounding 32 Nato personnel and 23 Afghans.

But President Hamid Karzai has called the prison at Bagram a “Taliban-producing factory” and alleged that some detainees had been tortured into hating their country.

The US gave names and details of three men to be freed, including Mohammad Wali, whom it described as a suspected Taliban explosives expert “biometrically linked” to two bombings against troops in Helmand province.

“Violent criminals who harm Afghans and threaten the peace and security of Afghanistan should face justice in the Afghan courts,” the US force said in a statement, adding that the releases would start on Thursday.

Moves to free the men have enraged US officials and further strained US-Afghan relations as the two countries wrangle over a long-delayed security deal allowing some American soldiers to stay in the country after 2014.

“They will be released today if there's not a change of plan,” Abdul Shukor Dadras, a member of the Afghan government body reviewing detainees, told AFP.

“Their cases were reviewed and we have no reason to keep them in jail.”

He declined to give details of how the men would be freed from the jail, 50km north of Kabul.

Bagram was the main detention centre housing Taliban and other insurgents captured by the Western military forces until it was transferred to Afghan control last year.

Some analysts believe the Afghan government hopes that the releases could help kick-start moribund peace talks with the Taliban who were ousted from power in 2001.

Sapa-AFP


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