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3 Missing Afghan Soldiers Found on US-Canada Border


A map shows the locations of Cape Cod Mall and Camp Edwards in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A map shows the locations of Cape Cod Mall and Camp Edwards in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Editor's note: This story is about three Afgan military officers who went missing in 2014. Information about the Afghan pilots missing from the Georgia base in December 2015 can be found in this story.

Three Afghan military officers who went missing during a training exercise at a U.S. military base in the U.S. northeastern state of Massachusetts were detained by the Canadian Border Patrol as they tried to cross into Canada.

U.S. authorities say the members of the Afghanistan National Army were taken into custody around Noon EDT Monday near Niagara Falls, New York, along the northeastern border with Canada.

The three soldiers were identified as Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Captain Noorullah Aminyar.

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, says the U.S. is still working with Canadian and Afghan authorities to determine the next steps in dealing with the runaway Afghans.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi told VOA earlier in the day he hoped officials would return the three to Afghanistan and deny any asylum request they might make.

Missing since Saturday

Vehicles are stopped by security personal as they enter a gate to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, Sept. 22, 2014.

Vehicles are stopped by security personal as they enter a gate to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, Sept. 22, 2014.

Authorities at Joint Base Cape Cod reported the three missing Saturday. They were last seen at a shopping mall in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Pentagon spokesman Warren said the military was not concerned the three might hurt civilians during their disappearance.

“We believe based on the extensive vetting that we did prior to them deploying to United States that they posed no threat. The State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and U.S. forces participated in the vetting process,” he said.

Annual military exercise

Massachusetts National Guard officials say the three did not have access to weapons as part of the training exercise, that involves about 200 soldiers from six countries, including 15 others from Afghanistan.

A Pentagon official describes the exercise as “tabletop” training, in which the participants sit at computer terminals and coordinate on various presented scenarios.

The United States has conducted the annual training sessions since 2004 as a way to promote better military coordination with other countries.

The week-long exercise is scheduled to end on Wednesday.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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