Havana: President Raul Castro's unprecedented humanitarian pardons announced last week so far have benefited 2,991 inmates, official data show, including seven political prisoners, according to dissidents.

Council of State decree number one signed by the President and dated Friday, issued final and unconditional pardons for 2,991 prisoners whose names were published in the government's Official Gazette on Wednesday.

Among the pardons were those of seven political prisoners, according to monitoring lists of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, led by Elizardo Sanchez.

Castro announced the pending pardons in an address to the National Assembly on Friday without saying exactly how many people they would cover.

According to Sanchez' group, the dissidents pardoned were Alexis Ramirez Reyes, Modesto Alexei Martinez Torres, Carlos Martinez Ballester, Walfrido Rodriguez Piloto, Yordani Martinez Carvajal, Yran Gonzalez Torna and Augusto Guerra Marquez.

The United States said Saturday that it was "deeply disappointed" that State Department contractor Alan Gross, 62 -- held since December 2009 and convicted on espionage charges -- was not included in the release by the Americas' only one-party Communist regime.

Castro said factors that played into the pardon decision included requests from the Catholic Church and various Protestant churches, and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

The pardon is the largest ever under the communist regime, much larger that the 299 prisoners released ahead of the visit of then-pope John Paul II in January 1998.

(Agencies)