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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 23:09 GMT
New captives enter US Cuba camp
Prisoners shortly after their arrival at Guantanamo
The Pentagon says further transfers are likely
The United States says another group of suspected al-Qaeda or Taleban fighters has been transferred to its military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - the first such intake since August.

The Pentagon declined to reveal how many were in the group or where they had been captured, but the BBC's Nick Childs in Washington says it appears they were brought from Afghanistan and number about 30.

The group's arrival came as the US announced the release of three Afghans and a Pakistani from Camp Delta over the weekend.

The Pentagon said further movement of prisoners in and out of the Guantanamo Bay camp was likely.

The new arrivals bring the total number there to about 625, up from just under 600 last week.

Progress to be followed

The freed Afghans were flown to the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, and handed over to the local authorities.

Prisoners at Guantanamo's Camp X-Ray - the precursor of today's Camp Delta
There are about 625 inmates at the Cuban base
Two of them were reported to be in their eighties, and Kabul police chief Basir Salangi said they looked very sick on their arrival home.

One Pakistani was also returned to his country, and is being debriefed.

The US announced last week that it planned to release some of the prisoners held in Cuba whom it no longer considered a threat, or of further use to the intelligence services.

A spokesman for the International Red Cross in Kabul said it was trying to put the prisoners in touch with relatives.

"We will follow their progress until they are with their families," she told the AFP news agency.

More releases

Mohammed Sagheer, from North-West Frontier Province which borders Afghanistan, is the first of 58 Pakistanis detained at Camp Delta to be set free.

Last month, Pakistan said most of its citizens detained at Camp Delta were not linked to the al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden, blamed for the 11 September attacks on the United States.

State-owned Pakistan television, which showed Mr Sagheer arriving back in the capital on Sunday night, quoted local authorities as saying 13 more Pakistani prisoners were to be released.

It gave no indication, however, of the timescale.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Interior Ministry said Mr Sagheer would be held for debriefing for a while.

Criticism

In the past few months, a team of Pakistani intelligence and security officials visited Camp Delta and interrogated each of the Pakistani prisoners.

The men were arrested by US-led coalition forces during the campaign against al-Qaeda fighters based in Afghanistan and the country's now-ousted Taleban rulers who gave them shelter.

Human rights groups have criticised the US for holding men from about 40 countries at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, without bringing any charges against them.


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23 Oct 02 | Americas
02 Sep 02 | South Asia
28 Aug 02 | South Asia
25 Jun 02 | Americas
19 Aug 02 | South Asia
30 Apr 02 | Americas
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