Two members of Muslim Uighurs were released from the U.S. Guantanamo detention camp and resettled in El Salvador, becoming the first prisoners to leave the facility in more than 15 months, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The two men, whose names were not released, had been held for more than a decade without charge. A U.S. court in Washington found there was no reason to hold them and ordered them freed in 2008.
The Chinese government has demanded that Uighurs held at Guantanamo be returned to China, but the U.S. government has said it could not do so because they would face persecution, and has searched for countries willing to accept them.
Their transfer to El Salvador reduced the population at the Guantanamo camp for foreign suspects to 169, down from 242 when President Barack Obama took office and unsuccessfully ordered the camp shut down within a year.
Most of the Uighurs who have been held at Guantanamo were captured near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in late 2001. Other Uighur Guantanamo prisoners have been resettled in Switzerland, Bermuda, Albania and the Pacific island of Palau.
Uighurs come from China-held region and many support autonomy or independence from China. There are three Uighurs left at Guantanamo, all of whom have been cleared for release.
"In accordance with statutory reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals," the Pentagon said.
It said the transfer was voluntary and had been ordered by a task force set up by the Obama administration in 2009.
"As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these individuals were designated for transfer by unanimous consent among all six agencies on the task force," the Pentagon said.
The men were the first prisoners to leave the detention camp alive since January 2011, when an Algerian captive was involuntarily returned to his homeland despite his claims that he feared abuse there.
Two Afghan prisoners have since died at Guantanamo and their bodies were sent home, one who died of apparent suicide by hanging and the other who collapsed after working out on an exercise machine in his cellblock.
Nearly 800 men have been held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba since the United States set up the detention center since 2001.
One more is expected to go home soon. The Canadian government received a formal request for transfer this week for Omar Khadr, the last citizen of a western nation held at Guantanamo.
Toronto-born Khadr was 15 when he was kidnapped in Afghanistan, and pleaded guilty in 2010 to "terrorism" charges.He was sentenced to eight additional years in prison as part of a plea agreement that made him eligible for repatriation in October 2011. Now 25, he is the youngest of the remaining prisoners.
A gunfight in western Mexico has killed 39 people in Mexico.
More than a quarter of French Africans feel discriminated against in their workplace in France.
The UN has said that it will investigate the firing of shots on its compound in South Sudan.
The Dutch government has agreed to introduce a partial ban on wearing the full face veil known as the niqab in public schools, hospitals, public transport and government offices. There are approximately between 200-500 women who wear the niqab in the country.
Protestors in Bosnia have demonstrated against the Morsi death penalty.
Germany and France have urged Greece to return to negotiations to complete a reform agreement before cash runs out.
The EU and the Ukraine have put in place a anti-corruption investigative team to handle misuse of EU funds for Kiev
The UN has expressed its shock over a Hungarian survey that has linked migrants and terrorism.
Malawi has expressed high hopes for entrepreneurs to help drive their economy.
The EU is set to propose to relocate 40,000 refugees across the entire EU
Cholera has struck more than 3,000 Burundi refugees in Tanzana, an epidemic that is now worsening daily.
A Russia missile producer has appealed against sanctions set by the EU.
The World Bank has said that Gaza's economy is on the verge of collapse, with the highest unemployment rate in the world, with threat of disease very high.
Ethiopia's parties are preparing for the elections on Sunday and are approaching the voters through ethnicity and differences in political ideology.