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More than 100 prisoners set free in Baghdad

Written by: Staff

Baghdad, June 7: More than 100 detainees were released in Baghdad today, a Reuters witness said, a day after new Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said a total of 2,500 would be freed to help foster ''national reconciliation''.

About 110 detainees had been gathered at the capital's main bus station, where prisoners are taken before they are set free, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. They were later released.

Maliki, who has pledged to heal sectarian wounds and crush a Sunni Arab insurgency, said in a televised statement on Tuesday that the prisoner release would free those who had no clear evidence against them or had been mistakenly detained.

Initially, 500 people would be released on Wednesday, he said, but did not give details. Many of those in prison are from ousted President Saddam Hussein's once dominant Sunni community.

It was not immediately clear whether prisoners were also freed in other parts of the country on Wednesday.

A critical U.N. human rights report last month said that there were 28,700 detainees in Iraq, including 5,000 held by the Interior Ministry even though it should only detain people for short periods of time.


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