KABUL (Reuters) - NATO-led foreign forces have stopped handing over prisoners to several Afghan jails ahead of the release of a U.N. report warning of torture, a move that raises fresh questions about plans to hand security over to Afghan forces.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) declined official comment on prisoner transfer policy.
But an official, who asked not to be identified, said the transfers had stopped "a few days ago" to at least 8 facilities -- run by police and intelligence services -- across the country, including western Herat, eastern Khost and Kapisa and northern Kunduz and Takhar provinces.
"With appropriate caution, ISAF has taken the prudent measure to suspend detainee transfer to certain facilities until we can verify the observations of a pending (U.N.) report," the official said.
The U.N. report is expected to be released within a few days. The U.N. could not immediately be reached for comment.
Afghanistan's prisons are over-crowded and beset by a range of problems, including inmate violence.
In April, hundreds of prisoners escaped from jail in Afghanistan's southern Taliban heartland, Kandahar, through a tunnel dug by the insurgent group.
Officials called the breakout a disaster, and the scale of the operation fueled suspicions of collusion by guards.
Foreign forces have already begun handing over security control of some parts of Afghanistan to the national army and police, as part of a phased transfer set to be complete by the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops will be back home.
But there have been persistent concerns about the strength of the Afghan security forces and long-standing problems, including corruption, abuse of power, high attrition rates, illiteracy and drug use.
(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)