Tale­ban shows sons born to US, Cana­dian hostage cou­ple

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Se­nior Tale­ban fig­ures con­firmed yes­ter­day they had re­leased a new video show­ing a kid­napped Amer­i­can-Cana­dian fam­ily, in­clud­ing two young boys born in cap­tiv­ity while held by the feared Haqqani network. The video showed for the first time the two sons of Cana­dian Joshua Boyle and Cait­lan Cole­man, a US cit­i­zen. Cole­man, 31, was preg­nant when the cou­ple were ab­ducted in 2012 in­side Afghanistan while on a back­pack­ing trip. A Cana­dian spokesman said the gov­ern­ment was re­view­ing the video, while US of­fi­cials would not im­me­di­ately com­ment. In the video, Cole­man begs for an end to their “Kafkaesque night­mare” and is crit­i­cal of both the Amer­i­can and Cana­dian gov­ern­ments and the fam­ily’s Haqqani cap­tors.

“We un­der­stand both sides hate us and are con­tent to leave us and our two sur­viv­ing chil­dren in th­ese prob­lems,” she said. “But we can only ask and pray that some­body will recog­nise the atroc­i­ties th­ese men carry out against us as so-called re­tal­i­a­tion in their in­grat­i­tude and hypocrisy.” The two young boys - who, along with their par­ents, ap­peared healthy - fid­geted on their fa­ther’s lap as Cole­man added: “My chil­dren have seen their mother de­filed.”

Two se­nior Tale­ban fig­ures based in Afghanistan told Reuters by tele­phone that the video had been up­loaded by the rad­i­cal Is­lamist in­sur­gents, who are fight­ing to top­ple the US-backed gov­ern­ment in Kabul. One said the video came from the Haqqani network - a close af­fil­i­ate of the Afghan Tale­ban - and it had been de­liv­ered to both US and Cana­dian of­fi­cials be­fore be­ing posted on YouTube late on Mon­day night.

He said the Haqqani network is de­mand­ing the re­lease of three of its se­nior mem­bers - in­clud­ing the brother and ma­ter­nal un­cle of Si­ra­jud­din Haqqani, who is deputy leader of the Afghan Tale­ban. Cole­man’s ref­er­ence to her two “sur­viv­ing chil­dren” was un­ex­plained. She ap­pealed to both Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to make a deal with their cap­tors.

“They want money, power, friends. You must give them th­ese things be­fore progress can be made.” Michael O’Shaugh­nessy, spokesman for the Cana­dian Depart­ment of Global Af­fairs, said of­fi­cials were study­ing the video. “We are deeply con­cerned for the safety and well-be­ing of Joshua Boyle, Cait­lan Cole­man and their young chil­dren and call for their un­con­di­tional re­lease,” he said. US of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on the new video but re­ferred re­porters to state­ments made by State Depart­ment spokesman John Kirby af­ter the last video of the cou­ple re­leased in late Au­gust. In those state­ments, Kirby called for the fam­ily’s “im­me­di­ate re­lease on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds” and said the US would “con­tinue to work ag­gres­sively” to bring all Amer­i­can hostages home.

Span­ish Red Cross worker kid­napped

In other news, gun­men have ab­ducted a Span­ish em­ployee of the Red Cross in north­ern Afghanistan, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, the lat­est in a se­ries of kid­nap­pings of for­eign­ers in the con­flict­torn coun­try. The ab­duc­tion oc­curred on Mon­day when work­ers of the in­ter­na­tional char­ity were trav­el­ling in two ve­hi­cles from Mazar-e-Sharif city to the volatile Tale­ban hot­bed of Kunduz.

“One male col­league was taken. The rest were let go,” the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross said in a state­ment. “We’re ex­tremely con­cerned for the safety of our col­league. We’re do­ing our best to dis­cover what pre­cisely hap­pened, and to se­cure his safe and un­con­di­tional re­lease as quickly as pos­si­ble.” A diplo­matic source in Madrid con­firmed he was a Span­ish na­tional. “We can say that a Span­ish Red Cross worker is be­ing held against his will in the north of Afghanistan”, the source told AFP, with­out of­fer­ing other de­tails.

No mil­i­tant group has so far claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ab­duc­tion. Lo­cal author­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent, Kunduz gov­ern­ment spokesman Sayed Mah­mood Dan­ish told AFP. Kunduz faces an in­ten­si­fy­ing Tal­iban in­sur­gency as the mil­i­tants in Oc­to­ber over­ran its pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal for the sec­ond time in one year.

Kid­nap­ping of for­eign­ers has been on the rise in Afghanistan re­cently, with crim­i­nal gangs stag­ing ab­duc­tions for ran­som or hand­ing the vic­tims over to in­sur­gent groups. In Au­gust, gun­men wear­ing mil­i­tary uni­forms kid­napped two pro­fes­sors of the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Afghanistan in the heart of Kabul, un­der­scor­ing the growing in­se­cu­rity in the coun­try. And in Novem­ber, an Aus­tralian na­tional was snatched from Kabul, just months af­ter an­other cit­i­zen was res­cued af­ter be­ing taken at gun­point. — Agen­cies

This un­dated mil­i­tant file im­age from video posted on­line in Au­gust 2016, which has not been in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied by The As­so­ci­ated Press, pro­vided by SITE In­tel Group, shows Cana­dian Joshua Boyle and Amer­i­can Cait­lan Cole­man, who were kid­napped in Afghanistan in 2012. — AP

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