[JURIST] The number of hunger strike participants at the Guantanamo [JURIST news archive] detention facility has decreased from 84 to 40 since a late-December spike [JURIST report] US military authorities announced [statement, PDF] Friday. Thirty-two of the remaining 40 hunger strikers are currently being force-fed through tubes, a procedure declared humane [American Forces Press report] by medical officials at the facility but disputed by lawyers for the detainees. Meanwhile international criticism of Guantanamo persists, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel [BBC profile] stating in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine published Saturday that Washington should close the prison and find alternative methods for dealing with the current inmates. Merkel's statements reflect strong German skepticism [DS report] about the US "war on terror" which she has vowed to express next week during her first visit to the US since becoming chancellor. Reuters has more.