American military commanders in Kabul used unusually harsh language Monday to condemn the Afghan government's release of 37 prisoners who they said are dangerous.
United State Forces-Afghanistan, which commands the 37,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan, said the 37 detainees to be freed are among 88 whose status is in dispute.
The Afghan Review Board (ARB) was set up in accordance with a March 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Afghan governments on how to handle the 88 disputed cases.
"The ARB is releasing back to society dangerous individuals who have Afghan blood on their hands," USF-Afghanistan said in a statement.
Among the 37 being released are 17 who've helped make or use improvised explosive devices known as IED's, three who participated in or had knowledge of attacks that wounded or killed 11 Afghan soldiers and four who were part of attacks that wounded or killed U.S. or other allied forces, according to the statement.
"This extra-judicial release of detainees is a major step backward in further developing the rule of law in Afghanistan," the U.S. command center said.
Regarding all 88 disputed detainees, the United States has provided the Afghan Review Board "strong evidence of violations of Afghan law or strong investigative leads requiring review," the statement said.
The dispute over prisoners is the most recent in a string of problems between the United States and the Afghan government led by Prime Minister Hamid Karzai.
The two governments have been at odds for months over Karzai's shifting stances on an accord. The Bilateral Security Agreement would spell out the activities and treatment of the relatively few U.S. forces who will remain in Afghanistan after the formal U.S. withdrawal is completed by the end of this year.
Karzai agreed to sign the deal in November, and an influential assembly of tribal leaders called on him to complete it. But since then he's added new conditions that the United States rejects.
Karzai on Saturday demanded that the U.S. agree to end all military operations involving Afghan villages and homes, including air strikes by drones.
Karzai is also urging the start of peace talks with the Taliban, the Sunni Muslim extremist group that led the insurgency after U.S. forces overthrew its government within weeks of the Oct. 7, 2001, invasion.
The United States and Taliban leaders explored holding tentative peace talks last year, but they didn't get off the ground.
-- Jonathan Landay contributed