Three Afghan students visiting Georgetown University disappeared from their Northwest Washington hotel 10 days ago, and officials said yesterday that the trio is still missing.
D.C. police are treating the Kabul natives' disappearance -- first reported in the Georgetown Voice, a campus newsmagazine -- as a missing persons case. Police said they have no indications of foul play.
University officials identified the women as Muzhda Asadi, Nazifa Sarwari and Soma Akrami, all 24.
After the women failed to show up at a U.S.-Afghan relations exchange session at 8 a.m. on Jan. 29, campus officials and Afghan chaperones contacted campus security, the Afghanistan embassy and local family members, said university spokesperson Gloria Lacap.
D.C. police Cmdr. Jeffrey Moore said that police are investigating the disappearances, but that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is doing the bulk of the search. "We did all that we normally do for any missing person," Moore said.
Mita Menezes, a student organizer of the program and president of the College Academic Council, said there were no indications the women were about to leave.
"It's just a shock," Menezes said.
The women mentioned the night before they disappeared that they looked forward to the following day's events, which included a White House briefing and a photo opportunity with first lady Laura Bush, Menezes said. The program organizers canceled both events after they learned the women were missing, Menezes said.
The students arrived on campus Jan. 24 for a program titled "Blueprint for the Future -- Connecting Afghan and American College Students." Also in the program were three other Afghan women, 11 Georgetown students and three Afghan students from other U.S. colleges, Menezes said. The remainder of the Afghan group left for Kabul last week, she said.
Menezes said the three Afghan students went shopping at a Target store in Alexandria on Jan. 28. Menezes said she dropped them off at their Marriott hotel rooms by 9:30 p.m. Two of the women shared one room. The following morning, the three were gone.
Haron Amin, deputy chief of missions for the Afghan Embassy to the U.S., who took part in many of the program's events, said the women have not tried to contact the embassy.
"We know nothing," Amin said.
An INS spokeswoman in the Arlington office could not be reached yesterday. Menezes said the women's visas are good for 30 days. One of the three, Akrami, told Menezes that she had relatives in Virginia.
Staff writer David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.