Moscow : Sheikh Abdulla, an elderly-looking, impoverished widower working as a traditional healer in Afghanistan, has been found to be a Soviet soldier who went missing during a nine-year-long war that began when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The man with a wispy beard is leading a semi-nomadic life with a local clan in Shindand district, reports IANS.

His real name is Bakhretdin Khakimov, an ethnic Uzbek. Khakimov was tracked down two weeks ago by a search party of the Warriors Internationalists Affairs Committee, a non-profit, Moscow-based organisation, operating under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), whose activists spent a year following the missing soldier’s decades-old trail. That’s one down and 263 soldiers to go for the committee, which presented its latest findings in the search for Soviet servicemen in Afghanistan at a press conference in Moscow. Since its inception, the committee has discovered 29 missing Soviet soldiers alive in Afghanistan.

Seven of them chose to stay, while the others returned home when given the option, said Aushev’s deputy, Alexander Lavrentyev, also an Afghan veteran. Khakimov is the eighth.

 He suffered severe head trauma during fighting in Shindand 33 years ago, when he was still a 20-year-old draftee, but was nursed back to health by a local village elder. The now-deceased Afghani, who made a living as a healer, adopted the native of the ancient Uzbek city of Samarkand and taught him the trade, Lavrentyev said. But the former soldier – who married in Afghanistan, but is now a childless widower – was eager to meet his relatives, something that the committee is currently working to arrange.

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