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Tensions Ease at US Guantanamo Base - 2002-03-01


A hunger strike by al-Qaida and Taleban detainees at Guantanamo Bay is losing momentum after U.S. defense officials ended a ban against wearing turbans that sparked the protest.

Fewer than 80 detainees at the U.S. Navy Base in Cuba refused to eat meals on Friday, compared to nearly 200 who declined their lunch on Thursday. Two of those on the hunger strike were forcibly given intravenous liquids overnight to prevent extreme dehydration. Officials say they will not allow the detainees to starve themselves.

The protest came after guards forcibly removed a turban from a prisoner who was praying earlier this week. U.S. officials have said authorities fear the prisoners from the war on terrorism could hide weapons in their turbans.

Three-hundred prisoners are being held at what is known at Camp X-ray, following their capture in Afghanistan. Their treatment has drawn criticism from European countries and human rights groups.