WASHINGTON: The United States has pulled out of all prisons in Afghanistan and no longer holds any detainees, a US official said, as Washington attempts to extricate itself from the war-torn country.
The announcement came just a day after the release of a searing Senate report on the brutal US treatment of “war on terror” detainees triggered worldwide condemnation, including from Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani.
Asking not to be named, the US official confirmed to AFP that after a careful review by the Pentagon and the State Department, the last “third-country nationals” in US custody in Afghanistan had been transferred, and the US military no longer operates any detention facilities there.
In March 2013, Afghan forces took full control from the US of the notorious Bagram prison, renamed Parwan, and located on the sprawling US military airbase. But the US had remained in charge of foreign prisoners.
One of the “black sites” mentioned in the damning 500-page Senate report, where measures such as “rectal feeding” were meted out, was a facility known as the “Salt Pit,” located outside the Bagram Air Base.
US management of the Bagram jail, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside Kabul, had been especially controversial.
Rights groups have accused US authorities of carrying out prisoner abuse at the facility, and a US army report found that two inmates were beaten to death in 2002.
Nine Pakistani prisoners were sent home from Bagram in August. And US troops in Afghanistan said on Sunday they had handed over another three Pakistani detainees to Islamabad.
A Pakistani security official said one of them was Latif Mehsud, a close aide to the former chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hakimullah Mehsud.
After 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, about 30,000 foreign soldiers and civilians were housed at the former Soviet base at Bagram.
But the number has been falling and will be cut to 6,000 US troops next year.
By the end of 2016, the only US military presence in Afghanistan will be at the embassy in Kabul as President Barack Obama winds down the US combat presence in the country.
NATO’s combat mission will end on December 31 this year, although some troops will remain to support the Afghan army and police, who have taken on responsibility for suppressing worsening Islamist violence nationwide.