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Moroccan soldier weds bride after 24 years

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RABAT, Morocco (Reuters) -- After 24 years of engagement, a Moroccan soldier named Abderrahim has married his bride.

But he had an excuse -- he was in jail deep in the Sahara desert.

"I was convinced she'd wait for me, I had blind confidence in her since the first day we met," Abderrahim told 2M state television, which did not disclose his last name.

Separatist guerrillas captured Abderrahim in 1979 during a war for control of the Western Sahara territory and freed him along with 300 of 900 remaining prisoners in November.

Abderrahim rushed home to wed his intended, Bahia, who knew he had been captured but had had no news of him for six years.

"I never thought I had lost my husband," she said. "I knew he'd come back one day. I never showed pain but hid it deep in my heart."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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