Afghanistan has announced it will release 88 prisoners who are currently being held in north Kabul's Bagram air base jail, despite US concerns that the inmates were involved in killing foreign troops.
According to US officials, 30% of the prisoners carried out direct attacks that killed or wounded 60 coalition troops, and 40% killed 57 Afghans, including police and security forces.
However, head of the prison's review board Abdul Shakor Dadras told Reuters that there is not enough evidence to hold the prisoners any longer.
"The documents we have seen so far provide no reason to convict them [...] Our decision is to release them as soon as possible if there is no incriminating evidence against them."
The planned release has also alarmed many senior Afghan security officials, as released prisoners often return to the battlefield.
Afghan senator Dawood Hasas said: "Release of notorious prisoners would not be in the national interests."
Bagram jail was handed over to Afghan control by the US in March 2013.
As part of the deal following the handover, an Afghan-led review board is charged with evaluating whether certain detainees are too dangerous to be released. The review board ordered the release of 648 Bagram prisoners, of whom 560 have been already freed.
An anonymous US official told The Wall Street Journal : "We are concerned that 88 people who have blood on their hands — Afghan and coalition blood — would be turned loose, but more important, that an agreement that we have with the Afghan government is being violated."
US senators in Afghanistan pressed president Karzai to stop the release, warning that it would irreparably damage relations with the United States.
President Karzai's office said in a statement: "The president noted that the establishment of Bagram prison, and the detentions made are in contradiction with the Afghan laws, as a result of which a large number of our innocent countrymen spent years in prison".
Karzai added that any deal with the US can wait until after the presidential elections in April.