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Afghanistan says 88 prisoners to be freed, despite US concern Car bomb kills three police officers

KABUL, Jan 6, (Agencies): Afghanistan will release 88 prisoners as planned even though the United States considers them dangerous and wants them to remain in detention, the board reviewing their cases told Reuters. The prisoners are being held at a jail at the Bagram air base north of Kabul. The United States only recently transferred the prison to Afghan control after it had become a serious source of tension with the Afghan government.

President Hamid Karzai instructed Afghan intelligence officials to provide the review board with more evidence against the prisoners, after the United States said there was proof of their involvement in the killing of foreign troops and they posed a serious threat to security. But the head of the review board, Abdul Shakor Dadras, said the evidence did not warrant keeping the prisoners any longer. “The documents we have seen so far provide no reason to convict them,” Dadras told Reuters by telephone late on Sunday. “Our decision is to release them as soon as possible if there is no incriminating evidence against them.”

The disagreement over the prisoners is a further strain on Afghan-US relations already seriously soured by Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security deal to shape the US military presence after most foreign troops leave this year. US senators in Afghanistan last week pressed the president to stop the release, warning it would irreparably damage relations with the United States. The planned release has also alarmed many senior Afghan security officials, who often see released prisoners return to the battlefield. US officials say about 40 percent of the prisoners were involved in attacks in which 57 Afghan civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were killed or wounded. Thirty percent of the prisoners had taken part in direct attacks that killed or wounded 60 members of Afghanistan’s US-led NATO force. Karzai’s office did not immediately comment.

Meanwhile, a provincial official in Afghanistan say a suicide car bomber has attacked a security checkpoint in the country’s east, killing three police officers. Musa Khan Akbarzada, the governor of Ghazni province, says the attack Monday also wounded three officers in the Shilghar district. Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email to journalists. Earlier, the Interior Ministry said police had apprehended a 10-year-old girl who had intended to carry out a suicide attack against Afghan border police in southern Helmand province. In a statement, the ministry said the girl claimed her brother, a local Taleban commander, had sent her on the mission. Afghan forces are seeing their casualties mount as the US-led international force there pulls back ahead of its withdrawal at the end of 2014.

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