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US hands over Bagram prisoners to Afghan authorities

US forces in have transferred responsibility of the detainees at Bagram prison to Afghan authorities. The move is part of an agreement signed between the two sides back in March.

The handover came despite doubts about the wisdom of the decision, raised by critics in the days leading up to the event.

"Today 3,182 prisoners are handed over to the military police," Commander Safiullah Safi told the the mainly Afghan government officials who attended the event at the prison, located adjacent to a US base located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the capital, Kabul, on Monday.

"I'm happy that today we are witnessing a glorious ceremony that marks the handing over of responsibilities of Afghan prisoners to Afghans themselves," the acting defence minister, Enayatullah Nazari, said.

The move was largely ceremonial, as most of the prisoners were already under Afghan supervision.

A dispute over the fate of almost 700 of the detainees is still to be resolved, however. The US has refused to hand over responsibility for about 50 foreign nationals, mainly from Pakistan, as well as 600 detainees who were arrested following the March 9 agreement. The US argues that these prisoners are not covered and that it retains the right to arrest suspected insurgents.

Bagram, which is now officially known as Parwan Detention Center, has in the past been at the center of allegations of abuse of detainees by US Army personnel.

pfd/kms (AFP, AP)