The three Afghan soldiers who vanished from a training exercise in Massachusetts on Saturday were found today near Niagara Falls, apparently trying to gain asylum in Canada, the Cape Cod Times reports. A source tells WCVB that the soldiers told Customs Agents at the Rainbow Bridge crossing that they were refugees. According to several officials, the three missing men—Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, and Captain Noorullah Aminyar—were just looking for a way to avoid returning to Afghanistan, NBC News reports. They may have been hoping to benefit from Canada's looser asylum policies.
All three were detained, but it's not clear who has them or whether they'll be returned to Joint Base Cape Cod or somewhere else. Neither US Customs in Buffalo nor federal authorities are holding the men, according to a customs rep, so the Canadian Border Services Agency may have them, the Boston Globe reports. The soldiers sparked a manhunt when they disappeared during a two-week training exercise that included 200 soldiers and civilians from different countries. (It's been held since 2004 to boost cooperation between forces from around the world, the AP notes.) And such vanishings are nothing new: Just last week, two Afghan policemen disappeared from a Washington-area DEA training program and were later found in New York. (More Afghanistan stories.)