- Associated Press - Thursday, September 29, 2016

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) - Seven Afghan military students in four states have been absent without leave since earlier this month, military officials said.

U.S. Navy Defense Press Operations Cmdr. Patrick L. Evans said in an email Thursday that four students left their posts without leave over the Labor Day weekend, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported (https://bit.ly/2dcWkt2 ). Two of the students were at Fort Benning in Georgia, while one was at Fort Lee in Virginia and the other in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Three more students - two at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and one at Fort Gordon, Georgia - were discovered missing the weekend of Sept. 17, Evans added.

He said most Afghan military students in the U.S. finish their training and return to their country, but officials have in the past uncovered some students’ plans to go AWOL. Officials have not said whether they believe the absences are connected.

It is unclear what training the missing students were receiving.

Evans referred all questions about the current status of the military students to the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations is aware of the situation, and is working in coordination with the State Department and the Department of Defense,” ICE Public Affairs Officer Carissa Cutrell said in an email.

In December, two Afghan men disappeared while training with the U.S. military at a base in south Georgia, Air Force officials said at the time. The two had been at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia, as part of training aimed at improving Afghanistan’s air force.


Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, https://ledger-enquirer.com

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