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Yemeni Prisoner at Guantanamo Dies of Apparent Suicide


The U.S. military says a Yemeni detainee has died in an apparent suicide at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

U.S. Southern Command said in a statement Tuesday that the detainee was 31-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, also known as Al Hanashi.

The military said guards conducting routine checks found Salih unresponsive and not breathing Monday. Officials say a physician later pronounced him dead "after extensive life-saving measures had been exhausted."

Salih had been held without charge at Guantanamo since February 2002. The military said intelligence reports indicate that he traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and that he admitted to fighting alongside the Taliban. It said Salih resided in four different al-Qaida and Taliban-affiliated guest houses, and was captured at Mazar-e-Sharif following the uprising there.

Yemen saddened by death

In a statement, the Yemeni embassy in Washington said it was saddened to learn of the death and that the incident demonstrates the "urgency" of closing the detention facility.

It said an embassy representative was traveling to Guantanamo to be briefed on the situation and oversee that the remains are treated in accordance with Islamic customs. The embassy said it looks forward to cooperating closely with U.S. President Barack Obama to "expedite" the closure of the facility.

Military officials say an investigation is under way to determine the circumstances of his death. No further details were provided about the death - the fifth reported suicide at the facility.

President Obama has promised to close Guantanamo by early 2010, but the Democratic-controlled Congress recently blocked funds that his administration sought to close the prison, where some 240 detainees are being held.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters

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