The Afghan government has released 65 prisoners from Bagram prison, which Kabul now controls, despite the United States warning that the men pose a security threat.
Another 23 are under consideration for release. The move is likely to further strain relations with Washington.
“They’ve been taken from the prison, holding their clothes in their hands. They received some cash and instructions from a cleric, and then they all went home,” said an Afghan soldier at the prison.
The US embassy put out a statement on its website, calling the release “deeply regrettable”, and warning the Afghan government it would be responsible for the results.
In total the Americans believe the group killed 32 US or coalition personnel, and 23 Afghan soldiers and civilians. The head of the prisoner review board said he believed their release would “benefit the Afghan nation, the American nation, and the American government.”
The US has been trying to get President Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement to allow more US troops to stay in the country beyond the end of this year, when the coalition forces pull out.