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Sunday, 15 February, 1998, 07:27 GMT
Russian official says 280 soldiers still in Afghanistan

Two hundred and eighty former Soviet army soldiers are still in Afghanistan nine years after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Radio Russia reported on Sunday.

Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, chairman of a committee under the council of CIS heads of government which has worked to secure the release of the remaining soldiers, told a meeting of the committee on Saturday that only 12 people had been released over the last few years, and that the 280 who remained included 137 Russians.

The radio did not make it clear how many of the 280 were still alive.

Aushev said the committee was cooperating with the Russian Foreign Ministry's foreign intelligence service to try to locate the servicemen and secure their release.

He said talks were being held to this end with Afghan military leaders Gen Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah Masud.

Sunday is the ninth anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and veterans will gather in Moscow to remember those who died, the radio added.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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