- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2014

Massachusetts police are not actively searching for three soldiers from the Afghanistan National Army who vanished from a mall while in the country for an international peace-keeping exercise, according to military personnel.

U.S. Central Command spokesman Mark Blackington said Monday that law enforcement officials were not searching for the Afghan soldiers — Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Cpt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Cpt. Noorullah Aminyar — “at this point, because they haven’t broken the law.”

“As far as I know, there’s no manhunt going on,” he said. “At this point, this is like a missing person-type thing. No one is actively looking for the soldiers.”

The Afghan trio was participating in a U.S. Central Command Regional Cooperation training exercise in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said. U.S. military personnel escorted them to a mall in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and somehow lost track of them, Col. Warren said.

“There’s a cultural component to this training exercise,” he said. “So this was cultural day. They were out touring the Cape Cod area and in this case they happened to be … at the Cape Cod mall in Hyannis, Massachusetts. That’s where they were last seen.”

Col. Warren said U.S. intelligence agencies conducted extensive background checks on all the foreign soldiers participating in U.S.-led training exercise. Therefore, the U.S. military does not believe the Afghan soldiers to be a threat. It appears that they are trying to abandon their country and hide in America, a senior Pentagon official said.

The soldiers arrived at the training school on Sept. 11, according to the Associated Press. Base security staff reported them missing Saturday night, the news agency reported.

The FBI field office in Boston has been notified, according to NBC.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Ryan said police are aware that the soldiers are missing but are not actively looking for them.

“We’re not involved in any search for those individual at this time,” he said.

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