Pakistan has admitted for the first time that it is holding 700 militant suspects without charges.
The suspected militants are being held under a controversial law that has been criticized by human rights organizations, according to the Associated Press. The country's Attorney General Irfan Qadir made the admission during a Supreme Court hearing Thursday.
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Qadir said the prisoners were being held in internment centers in the tribal belt near the Afghan border because the country was in a "war-like situation" in the area, reported BBC News. He said they would remain in custody while it continued.
"There is a military operation in Waziristan. Under the law we cannot try these 700 people, nor can we release them, unless the operation is over," Qadir told the Supreme Court, referring to the tribal area near the Afghan border, according to Reuters.
This marks the first time Pakistan has detailed the number of militants it is holding under the Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulations law, noted Reuters. The law was condemned by Amnesty International in December when the organization said it "provided a framework for widespread human rights violations to occur with impunity."