Afghan Review Board (ARB), a special government panel, ordered on Monday that the 37 prisoners be released from the Afghan-supervised detention facility at Bagram Airfield, a news agency reported.

"We strongly condemn the extrajudicial release of these detainees," said Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren.

"ARB is releasing dangerous insurgents," Warren said, adding that strong evidence or investigative leads support the detainees’ prosecution or further investigation.

Warren said that of the 37 detainees, 17 are linked to attacks involving the use of improvised explosive devices, and seven participated in or had knowledge of direct attacks on Afghan forces or coalition service members.

"These are bad guys. These are individuals with blood on their hands, both US, coalition and Afghan blood on their hands," Warren told reporters at the Pentagon.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also expressed concern over the possible release of the detainees without their cases being referred to the Afghan criminal justice system.

"The 37 detainees are dangerous criminals, against whom there is strong evidence linking them to a terror-related crime, including the use of improvised explosive devices, the largest killer of Afghans civilians," Psaki said.

The row over the release of detainees further strained US-Afghanistan ties, which are overshadowed by the failure of signing a bilateral security agreement. The White House had urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the agreement by the end of 2013 to give enough time for planning and deciding the number of troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.

Karzai, however, refused to sign the accord until after a new president is elected on April 5, 2014, or unless Washington meets preconditions including immediately halting US raids on Afghan residences, ensuring viable security and supporting meaningful peace talks with the Taliban.


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