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Three Afghan soldiers missing from Massachusetts training exercise

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[September 22, 2014]  Sept 21 (Reuters) - Three Afghanistan National Army soldiers have been reported missing from a joint military training exercise taking place in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, officials said on Sunday.

The officers were reported missing from U.S. Central Command's Regional Cooperation exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod late on Saturday by base security, said Massachusetts National Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Sahady.

The three soldiers, Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Captain Noorullah Aminyar, were last seen at a nearby mall and were not considered a threat to the public, Sahady said.

"They were sent here to participate in this exercise. There's no reason we have to believe that they are any threat," Sahady said, adding that they did not have access to weapons as part of the exercise.

Base authorities, state, and police were involved in the search for the missing soldiers on Sunday, Sahady said.

The annual event is a way to foster better cooperation and military readiness between participating countries and has been running since 2004. Roughly 200 soldiers from six nations, including 15 from Afghanistan, were participating in this year's exercise, Sahady said.

The week-long exercise is scheduled to end on Wednesday.

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CBS News reported on Friday that two Afghan policemen were found after going missing from a separate training exercise held by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Quantico, Virginia.

((Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel);; +1-347-978-6580)

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