Three Afghan soldiers, who went missing while in Massachusetts for military training, have been found trying to cross the border into Canada, a Defense Department official said Monday.
“I can confirm that the Canadians have them,” the official said.
The Afghan officers were reported missing late Saturday after a trip to a shopping mall in Hyannis, Mass., about 20 miles from Joint Base Cape Cod, where they were involved in a training exercise. Earlier this month, two Afghan police officers disappeared from a Drug Enforcement Administration training program in Quantico, Va., and were found several days later in that area.
In each case, the Afghans were part of a chaperoned group that was taken to see U.S. sights and culture, officials said. Both groups were vetted by U.S. officials before they were allowed into the United States.
“There is no indication they pose any threat to the public,” the military said of the three officers.
The three were identified as Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Capt. Noorullah Aminy. They arrived at Joint Base Cape Cod on Sept. 11. In addition to Afghanistan, personnel also arrived from Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
The exercises took place at Camp Edwards, home to the Massachusetts National Guard and part of Joint Base Cape Cod, which includes a replica of an operating base used by soldiers in areas like Afghanistan.
The training, known as Exercise Regional Cooperation 2014, is one of a series of annual events, sponsored by the U.S. Central Command. Such training has taken place every year since 2004; last year’s exercise was Germany.
The visitors get days off, such as Saturday, the military said. The Afghans were taken to the mall to sight-see and observe aspects of U.S. culture, the military said.
On Sept. 13, two Afghan policemen went missing in Washington, D.C., while visiting the U.S. for training in narcotics law-enforcement techniques, said Joseph Moses, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The two Afghan officers, who were said to be looking for a better life, were on a chaperoned visit to Washington’s Georgetown section when they went off. They were found a few days later and returned to the training program, which ended last week.
The pair had been vetted before they arrived and found to be clear of all criminal ties, Moses said.
The incident marked the first time any police had gone missing among the thousands of foreign officers who have received additional training in Quantico, Va., according to authorities.