South Asia

President Hamid Karzai orders Afghan prisoner review

Delegates look on as Afghan President Hamid Karzai delivers a speech at the "peace jirga"
Image caption The conference discussed measures to promote reconciliation

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered a review of the cases of every Taliban suspect in the country's prisons.

He said that where evidence against suspects was doubtful, they must be released.

Meanwhile, Mr Karzai's office says Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh have resigned.

It said they quit over the attack on last week's national peace conference.

The statement said the explanations they gave the president for last week's attack by the Taliban on the peace jirga was "not satisfactory", and Mr Karzai had accepted their resignations.

None of the delegates were hurt in the Taliban assault, which saw rockets fired at the Kabul venue.

Mr Karzai's announcement of prisoner case reviews is the first official response to the national peace conference, which ended on Friday.

The conference discussed measures to promote reconciliation, including negotiations with militant factions, and recommended the release of Taliban suspects being held in Afghan police custody and by the US military if they were being held on "inaccurate statements or unsubstantiated allegations".

It is unclear how many people the review will affect. Hundreds of prisoners are accused of Taliban involvement.

A committee will be set up to oversee the investigation of each case.

Nato troops killed

The head of international forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, told the BBC that Mr Karzai had asked "to get sovereignty over all detention operations in Afghanistan and we are working full speed to do that", with the aim of achieving this by the end of the year.

Gen McChrystal said Mr Karzai had asked him to release suspects in cases where evidence was doubtful, or where they did not pose a threat.

"We've already been doing that for a number of months, doing a very effective detainee review board process that has... participants from the individual's village, and we've released a large number around the country, and that's going very well."

He added that as Mr Karzai's review process took off, he anticipated that international forces would be able to provide "good visibility on the background why a person was detained, rationale for release or continued detention".

Meanwhile, Nato says five international troops have been killed in three separate incidents in Afghanistan on Sunday.

The Western military alliance said three members of its force were killed in a vehicle accident in southern Afghanistan.

Another soldier died in a bomb explosion in the south, while a fifth was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan.