Three Afghan soldiers that were reported missing from Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts on Saturday night have reportedly been found near the border between the United States and Canada, according to a statement to ABC News given by a United States defense official.
According to a Reuters report, the three Afghan soldiers were caught trying to cross the border into Canada. Their disappearance was reported after the three failed to return to training exercises at the U.S. Military base.
The three Afghan soldiers didn’t try to hide or sneak across the border, but simply walked up to border guards near Niagara Falls, New York and presented themselves, said Massachusetts State Police spokesman, David Procopio.
“We were notified this morning by federal law enforcement that the three missing soldiers had been located at a border checkpoint by Niagara Falls and were being interviewed by federal authorities,” said Procopio. “We were told that they presented themselves to the security checkpoint.”
ABC News reports that the three Afghan soldiers asked for asylum at the border checkpoint and are currently being held by Canadian authorities.
The three Afghan soldiers included a major and two captains. They were participants in a training program called “Regional Cooperation 2014,” an exercise overseen by Centcom scheduled to run September 17th through the 24th.
Before vanishing last Saturday, the three Afghan soldiers were seen shopping for clothes at the Cape Cod Mall, Massachusetts, authorities told ABC News.
The command post exercise has been an annual event since 2004. Held in Germany last year, this year’s exercise attracted participants from six different countries with a focus on a peacekeeping mission.
Colonel Steve Warren had assured the public earlier Monday before the three Afghan soldiers were found that nothing indicated the three were any sort of threat.
According to Warren, the three Afghan soldiers, still missing at the time of his statements, posed no threat because they had been “thoroughly” investigated by several people, including officials from the embassy in Kabul, the State Department, and even U.S. forces.
“We believe based on the extensive vetting that we did prior to their deploying to the United States that they do not pose a threat,” Warren said.
Warren also noted participants in the program, such as the three Afghan soldiers, are free to come and go from the base where the exercise was being held. At the same time, said Warren, “as a rule because it’s an unfamiliar area to them they would have US personnel accompany them if they wanted to depart post.”
The three Afghan soldiers are officers and were part of a 14-officer group from Afghanistan, according to officials.
Image via ABC News