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U.S., Afghan tensions grow over prisoner release

Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The United States and Afghanistan are at odds over the Afghan government’s decision to release several prisoners from a military jail in Kabul, further straining an already tense relationship between the two countries, the New York Times reports. The U.S. strongly opposes the plan because it could pose a serious threat to security, U.S. officials said Wednesday. Officials said more than two-thirds of the 88 prisons set to be released had participated in attacks on Afghan civilians, troops, and coalition forces. Roughly 30 percent had been directly involved in attacks that wounded or killed 60 U.S. and coalition troops.

An Afghan-led review board recommended the prisoners be released, despite coalition and Afghan defense officials calling for them to stand trial. Colonel Dave Lapan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, echoed U.S. fears and condemned the review board’s decision.

“The Afghan Review Board has exceeded its mandate and ordered the release of a number of dangerous individuals who are legitimate threats and for whom there is strong evidence supporting prosecution or further investigation,” Col. Lapan said. “Their cases should be addressed by the formal Afghan justice system.”

Disagreement and anger over the plan has sunk U.S. and Afghanistan relations to a new low, especially in the wake of President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security deal that would keep around 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

H/T Sarah Corapi

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