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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Terror suspects 'attempted suicide'
A detainee is carried on a stretcher at Camp X-Ray, Feb. 2002
Almost 600 prisoners are held at Guantanamo Bay

At least 30 al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base in Cuba have tried to commit suicide, doctors at the detention centre say.

The centre, in operation for the past seven months, is now almost at full capacity.

Last week 34 new arrivals took the number of detainees to 598.

A US military medical team examines the detainees once they arrive here at Guantanamo Bay.

Remorse?

Most are healthy with only run-of-the-mill medical problems, commander James Radkee, a doctor with the US navy, told visiting journalists.

Change of regime
New cells have metal beds, foam mattresses, flushing toilets and sinks with running water
The new cells are smaller than those at X-Ray which were 1.8m wide and 2.4m long
New cells have solid walls - X-Ray's were made of wire mesh
But he says a couple of dozen detainees have chronic psychiatric problems.

Over the months doctors have dealt with at least 30 incidents they see as suicide attempts.

These have ranged from detainees trying to cut themselves with plastic utensils to banging their heads against walls and punching the walls.

None of the detainees was able to do much damage to himself.

Commander Radkee says some of this behaviour is seen as a sign that the detainees are showing remorse for their actions.

Questions

It is a glimpse - albeit from the US military's perspective - into the lives of men who are completely hidden from the world in Camp Delta.

A hospital ward at Guantanamo Bay naval base
A medical team is looking after the detainees
They were moved there at the end of April when Camp X-Ray, with its open-air metal cages, was emptied.

But even the new camp is now almost full. A further 200 cells are to be built by October, and possibly more after that.

This all suggests that this naval base will remain the main detention centre for al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects for the foreseeable future - the Americans see it as the most effective way of keeping dangerous men out of circulation.

But human rights groups are increasingly questioning the legal basis on which these detentions continue.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Frank Gardner
"Guantanamo Bay is almost impossible to penetrate without permission"
The BBC's James Wooldridge
"The detainees were more driven by religion than politics"

Key stories

European probe

Background

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See also:

15 Aug 02 | Americas
27 Jun 02 | Americas
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