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Afghan government releases 55 prisoners from detention centre

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Afghan authorities said on Thursday (March 20) that they have released 55 prisoners Bagram detention centre. The move comes after President Hamid Karzai's decision last month to release the disputed 65 prisoners is a sign of his growing eagerness to assert his independence from his Western backers. Authorities said the prisoners were released on the basis that they were detained with insufficient evidence. The dispute over the prisoners is one of a series of incidents marking a deterioration in ties. President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security pact that would enable U.S. troops, in the country since 2001, to remain beyond the end of the year. He says the accord can wait until after a presidential election in April.

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