Taleban shows sons born to US, Canadian hostage couple
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