Missing Soviet soldier found in Herat
KABUL (PAN): A former Soviet soldier, listed as missing in action in Afghanistan 33 years ago, has been found alive in the Shindand district of western Afghanistan, a Russian news agency reported on Wednesday.
Bakhretdin Khakimov, an ethnic Uzbek from Samarkand, has changed his name to Sheikh Abdullah, according to a RIA report, which said the war veteran -- sporting a disheveled beard -- was working as a traditional healer in Shindand.
He was found two weeks ago by a search team of the Moscow-based Warriors Internationalist Affairs Committee, a non-profit organisation operating under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Injured in the first months after the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979, the soldier was rescued and adopted by an Afghan healer. Khakimov is said to have mostly forgotten the Russian language and never tried to contact his family after suffering severe head trauma.
Alexander Lavrentyev, the deputy head of the committee, met Abdullah last month. The erstwhile Soviet soldier, who went missing at 20, still bears the scars of his injury, according to Lavrentyev. "He was just happy he survived."
As s a result of decades of struggle, the committee has found 29 of 264 soldiers still listed as missing. Seven of those contacted by it opted to live in Afghanistan. Some 15,000 Soviet troops were killed in the fighting triggered by its invasion.
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