The Ethiopian government has acknowledged holding 41 suspected terrorists from other countries, and says it allowed foreign investigators to question them.

The acknowledgment from the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry Tuesday followed an Associated Press report on the foreign detainees last week. The report said U.S. intelligence officials had interrogated the suspects as part of a hunt for al-Qaida suspects in the Horn of Africa.

The Ethiopian statement suggested the detainees were captured recently in Somalia. Ethiopia has several thousand troops in Somalia to help that country's government fight Islamist insurgents.

Human rights groups have called the detentions and transfers a violation of international law.

The foreign ministry is defending the detentions, saying Ethiopia has the right to protect itself from the danger posed by terrorism.

The ministry says none of the detainees have been subjected to torture or inhumane and degrading treatment. It also says five of the 41 detainees have been released, and says another 24 will be released shortly.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.