Myanmar's military-backed government has released 20 political prisoners, months before it is scheduled to hand over power to an elected pro-democracy party.

The released detainees said prison authorities declared that they were among 101 prisoners including common criminals who were released Friday from Insein Prison in Yangon's northern outskirts.

More than 1,300 political prisoners have been freed by President Thein Sein's military-backed government, which took power in 2011 after an election that marked an end to almost five decades of direct miltary rule. Activists say several hundred political offenders are still detained or await trial.

Visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week urged the government release all remaining political prisoners