Three Afghan National Army soldiers who did not return to a training exercise at a U.S. military base in Massachusetts were found trying to cross the Canadian border, local media reported on Monday.
The men were taken into custody at a border crossing near Niagara Falls, New York, WCVB-TV reported, citing an unidentified law enforcement source.
Military officials did not immediately respond to request for comment and the report could not be independently verified.
Authorities at Joint Base Cape Cod in the U.S. northeastern state of Massachusetts reported the three missing Saturday. They were last seen at a shopping mall in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said military officials are speculating the three Afghans may be trying to defect to the United States.
Massachusetts National Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Sahady said officials do not believe the soldiers pose a threat but are baffled about their disappearance.
“There is no threat right now, and we are just concerned on where they are and where did they go,” Sahady said. “And that is the good question right now. Did they go sightseeing or did they get lost, etc.? Or do they have other agendas that we do not know about at this time?”
200 soldiers involved
Sahady said the soldiers did not have access to weapons as part of the training exercise that involves about 200 soldiers from six countries, including 15 others from Afghanistan.
The United States has conducted the annual training sessions since 2004 as a way to promote better military coordination with other countries.
The three soldiers were identified as Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Captain Noorullah Aminyar.
Base authorities, state, and police were involved in the search for the missing soldiers on Sunday, Sahady said.
The week-long exercise is scheduled to end on Wednesday.
Some material for this report provided by Reuters