WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The number of detainees conducting a hunger strike at the prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, has risen to 21, U.S. military officials say.
At least two of the hunger strikers have required treatment at the prison hospital at the U.S. base at Guantanamo, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
As of Monday morning, eight of the 166 people held at the military base in Cuba on terrorism-related charges had missed enough meals and lost enough body weight to require nutritional supplements, the military said in a statement.
The inmates are shackled into restraint chairs and fed twice daily through tubes placed down their noses and into their stomachs, the statement said.
The detainees claim through their lawyers the hunger strike seeks to end searches of their personal copies of the Koran, which the prisoners say amounts to desecration.
The attorneys said the strike began in February with inmates consuming only water of honey water.
Prison spokesman Navy Capt. Robert Durand, initially denied the size of the hunger strike. He said Friday there were 14 hunger strikers, with six of them on feeding tubes.
On Monday, a Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, said the military was "fully in acknowledgment" the strike had grown.
He denied any desecration of the prisoners' Korans, calling the charge a "detainee-created myth."