The Afghan government released 65 accused militants from a former U.S. prison on Thursday, despite U.S. warnings that the detainees pose a serious security threat, in a move that further strains relations between Washington and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai ordered the release of the detainees weeks ago, less than a year after the Afghan government took over prisons from U.S. troops, the AP reported. The decision comes in the wake of a refusal by Karzai to sign a long-negotiated bilateral security agreement that would allow a residual U.S. force to remain in Afghanistan after the planned pullout of most foreign troops by the end of the year.
As the international mission in Afghanistan winds down, U.S. officials criticized Afghanistan’s decision, arguing that the freed men are Taliban fighters who will likely return to the battlefield to attack coalition and Afghan forces.
“The release of these dangerous individuals poses a threat to U.S. coalition and Afghan national-security forces as well as the Afghan population,” the U.S. command in Kabul said in a statement.