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Missing Afghan soldiers stopped at Canada border trying to seek asylum

Border patrol agents apprehended three Afghan soldiers who went missing while attending a training conference in Massachusetts.

By Gabrielle Levy
Missing Afghan soldiers stopped at Canada border trying to seek asylum
Three soldiers from the Afghan National Army, like those pictured here in 2010, who went missing during a training conference in Cape Cod, have been stopped trying to cross into Canada near Niagara Falls. UPI/Hossein Fatemi | License Photo

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Three Afghan soldiers who went missing during a training conference in Cape Cod have been stopped trying to cross into Canada near Niagara Falls.

Top Massachusetts law enforcement officials told media the three officers were taken into custody on the Rainbow Bridge at the border Monday after disappearing Saturday night.

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Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Capt. Noorullah Aminyar of the Afghan National Army were last seen at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis. They were among 12 members of the ANA who arrived on September 11 to participate in the annual regional cooperation conference at Camp Edwards in Sandwich.

"They were here for a multi-national military exercise, which had been scheduled for a long time. They have been here for a couple of weeks," Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said. "There's a lot of speculation that within the military they maybe be trying to defect."

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The three officers reportedly told Customs agents at the border they were trying to defect, and may have been attempting to take advantage of Canada's asylum policies.

It's unclear if they will be returned to Cape Cod or elsewhere. Authorities said they never thought the three soldiers posed any theta to public safety.

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Last week, a similar incident occurred when two Afghan policemen went missing during a Drug Enforcement Agency training near Washington, D.C., and were later found in New York. And earlier this month, an Afghan officer who was to carry his country's flag at the NATO summit in Wales applied for asylum upon his arrival.

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