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Bermuda Takes Guantanamo Uighurs


Four Chinese Muslim Uighurs have been released from the US detention centre at Guantanamo and resettled in Bermuda, US officials said.

The four men are part of a group of Chinese nationals captured by the US in Afghanistan but found not to be enemy combatants four years ago.

This week the US said some would be sent to the Pacific island of Palau.

Beijing has described 22 Uighurs detained by the US as terrorists and demanded their return to China.

Soon after the four former inmates landed in Bermuda, a British overseas territory off America's eastern seaboard, US justice department spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We will consult regularly with the government of Bermuda on the status of these individuals."

They will not be allowed to enter the United States without prior permission, US officials said.

Torture fears

One of the four, Abdul Nasser, said in a statement released through his lawyer: "Today you have let freedom ring."

Five Uighurs who were transferred to Albania in 2006 have not been engaged in criminal or terrorist activities since, the US government said.

China repeated its demand for the return of all Chinese detainees hours before Bermuda accepted the Uighurs.

America should "stop handing over terrorist suspects to any third country", foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

Earlier this week Palau, a former US territory just east of the Philippines, agreed to accept the ethnic Uighurs.

Correspondents say the US has been reluctant to send the Uighurs back to China for fear they will be tortured or executed.

More than eight million mainly Muslim Uighurs live in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, a vast area of western China that borders Central Asia.

Beijing says Uighur insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement.

China says the Uighurs captured by the US are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is on a UN list of terrorist groups.

US President Barack Obama has ordered the Guantanamo detention centre closed by early next year.

Correspondents say officials are having difficulty finding governments willing to accept the remaining detainees, while at home they face stiff resistance to the idea of Guantanamo detainees on being transferred to US soil.

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