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U.S. opposes Afghanistan's decision to release 72 inmates

The United States on Thursday voiced opposition to Afghanistan's latest decision to release 72 of the 88 suspected Taliban inmates, calling them "dangerous criminals."

"These 72 detainees are dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes, including the use of improvised explosive devices, the largest killer of Afghan civilians," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Washington said the 88 inmates are suspected to be involved in the deaths of 117 members of the Afghan or international security forces.

"These insurgents who pose threats to the safety and security of the Afghan people and the state are being released without an investigation and without the use of criminal justice system in accordance with Afghan law," Psaki said.

The decision to set the above-mentioned number of prisoners free, being held in the Bagram prison near Kabul, the Afghan capital, was made early Thursday at a meeting chaired by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the grounds that they are innocent or held without adequate evidence.

Washington turned the prison over to Kabul in March 2013, which houses more than 3,000 suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operatives. Afghanistan released more than 650 prisoners days ago despite U.S. opposition.

U.S.-Afghanistan relations have been strained over Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) allowing for limited U.S. military presence after most American and NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

"If we can't conclude a BSA promptly, we will initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there's no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan," Psaki said.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 09Jan14]

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