WASHINGTON -- U.S. military officials now say a hunger strike by inmates at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has grown to 100 of the 166 remaining detainees.
But lawyers for some of the inmates claim the actual number is around 130.
Prison spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said in a statement that 19 hunger strikers are being fed via nasal feeding tubes and five have been hospitalized.
The hunger strike began in February over the handling of prisoners’ Korans by guards but has grown into a widespread protest against years of incarceration without trial or charges.
Eighty-nine inmates have been cleared for release but are still being held.
President Barack Obama said on April 30 that he does not want to see any inmate die and vowed to try again to get Congress to close the facility.
He said he did not want “these individuals to die” and said he would “reengage with Congress” on the future of the detention center, which blocked his attempts to close it in his first term.
"Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe," Obama said. "It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."
With additional reporting by "The New York Times" and "Financial Times"