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Senegal accepts 2 Libyan prisoners from Guantanamo

The United States has flown two Libyan prisoners from its Guantanamo Bay facility to Senegal for resettlement. Their release is part of President Barack Obama's plan to eventually close the controversial military prison.

The Pentagon announced the transfer of inmates Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar on Monday.

Both Libyans have been held at Guantanamo in Cuba for nearly 14 years without charge. According to their leaked prisoner files, the men had ties to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and al Qaeda. A US official told Reuters news agency they were the first of a group of around a dozen inmates who are expected to be moved from the detention center in the next few weeks.

Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the west African country of Senegal for offering "humanitarian resettlement" to the two men after US authorities approved their release.

The latest transfer means there are now 89 prisoners remaining at the jail. Of those, 35 have been cleared for release.

The prison was opened in 2002 under former President George W. Bush to hold men with suspected links to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

US President Barack Obama last month unveiled a plan to move towards closing the prison - a campaign pledge he is hoping to fulfill before leaving office in January. His proposal, which has been slammed by several Republicans in Congress, involves transferring Guantanamo prisoners to facilities on US soil, and to other countries who offer to take them in.

"We are taking all possible steps to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility in a responsible manner that protects our national security," Secretary of State Kerry said in a statement after the transfers to Senegal were completed.

nm/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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