The 27 were captured during a deadly Jan. 23 U.S. commando raid on two suspected al-Qaida compounds.
Marine Corps. Maj. Ralph Mills, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said American officials handed the detainees over to Afghan Interim Authority officials in the town of Tarin Kowt, located north of Kandahar and near the scene of the raid.
“We determined they were not Taliban forces or linked to al-Qaida and so we released them,” Mills said. He added that some of the men were thought to be local criminals but were not involved in the war.
According to Mills, the military is investigating the incident to determine whether those killed had Taliban or al-Qaida connections.
“That raid is still under investigation to determine what went right or wrong there,” Mills said.
At least 15 other Afghans were killed in the pre-dawn attack in Khas Uruzgan, a village about 60 miles north of Kandahar.
Following the incident, the Pentagon initially said those killed had been Taliban fighters. Afghan security forces, however, said an anti-Taliban militia members had died in the attack.