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U.S. Sends Five Guantanamo Prisoners To Kazakhstan

The United States has transferred five prisoners from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to Kazakhstan for resettlement.

The men -- three Yemenis and two Tunisians – had been imprisoned at the facility in Cuba for more than a decade.

The men were captured in Pakistan as suspected Islamist militants with ties to Al-Qaeda.

The Pentagon said in a statement on December 30 that the five were "unanimously approved" to be transferred after a review by several U.S. government agencies.

They are among dozens of Guantanamo prisoners who have been cleared of committing a crime but cannot be sent home for security reasons.

The details of what Kazakhstan had agreed to and what security measures the government might take in relation to the ex-inmates remained unclear.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government has taken strict actions against Islamic fundamentalists in recent years.

Critics accuse the government of the predomintantly Muslim, secular state of using concerns about Islamic militancy as a pretext to silence dissent.

The Pentagon statement said the five men's release brings the number of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to 127.

Of the 127, 59 inmates have been cleared to be transferred to their home countries or third countries.

Twenty-eight have been transferred this year.

The transfers are part of U.S. President Barack Obama's effort to close the controversial military prison, which was set up to detain terror suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and has been condemned by human rights groups as a "legal black hole."

The Pentagon identified the Tunisian nationals transferred on December 30 as Adel Al-Hakeemy and Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti, who is also known as Lofti Bin Ali.

The Yemenis were identified as Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna, and Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Qurashi.

The transfers came days after Cliff Sloan, Obama's Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure, resigned from his post.

Sloan had reportedly become frustrated at the slow pace of the relocations, which have to be approved by the Pentagon.

Outgoing Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, who resigned in November, had reportedly come under pressure from the White House to move more quickly to approve proposed transfers of detainees.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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