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Afghan Prisoners in Cuba First of Hundreds to Follow - 2002-01-11

The first group of suspected Taleban and al-Qaida prisoners from Afghanistan has arrived at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they will be held in a makeshift detention center.

The detainees were flown out of Kandahar on Thursday. They are the first of several hundred prisoners that could be transported in coming weeks to the isolated U.S. military base in southeastern Cuba.

Officials at the Base say security is their primary concern. A temporary holding facility made up of small, open cells with chain link walls will house the detainees, who have not been granted formal prisoner-of-war status.

Officials say the prisoners will be held in temporary cells until a more permanent facility capable of holding 2,000 individuals is constructed in coming months.

The detainees' ultimate fate remains unclear. President Bush has authorized military tribunals for foreign-captured suspects in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Officials at Guantanamo Bay say all prisoners will be treated humanely and in accordance with international conventions.