Soviet soldier missing since 1980 'found in Afghanistan'

A Soviet soldier from Uzbekistan who went missing in 1980 while serving in the Red Army during the war in Afghanistan has turned up living in the west of the country over three decades later.

Bakhretdin Khakimov has been living in Herat province since suffering an injury there during service in September 1980, according to the veterans support organisation which found him.

Khakimov is now known as Sheikh Abdullah and works as a healer, said Alexander Lavrentyev of the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

He said previous attempts to arrange a meeting with him had fallen through on three occasions.

"On February 23, locals managed to bring him into the city for a meeting. Now he is called Sheikh Abdullah but before he was Bakhretin Khakimov from (the Uzbek city of) Samarkand," said Lavrentyev.

He said Khakimov was married but his wife died. He has no documents and barely speaks any Russian although he understands the language, Lavrentyev said.

According to RIA Novosti there are still 264 Soviet soldiers considered to be missing in Afghanistan and the veterans group intends to work until the fate of every single one is known.

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