December 31, 2012

Mystery surrounds couple missing in Afghanistan

A pregnant American woman and her Canadian husband have not been heard from since Oct. 8.

By DENIS D. GRAY and ERIC TUCKER The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Caitlan Coleman, right, sits with her husband, Josh, in this undated photo provided by her father, James Coleman. The couple disappeared in Afghanistan in October.

The Associated Press

It was not known whether the silence over the case by U.S. and Canadian officials was because of ongoing negotiations to seek their release. But information blackouts have kept some similar past cases quiet in an attempt to not further endanger those missing.

According to Hazrat Janan, the head of the provincial council in Afghanistan's Wardak province, the two were abducted in Wardak in an area about 25 miles west of the capital, Kabul. They were passing through Wardak while traveling from Ghazni province south of Kabul to the capital.

Wardak province, despite its proximity to Kabul, is a rugged, mountainous haven for the Taliban, and travel along its roads is dangerous. Foreigners who do not travel with military escorts take a substantial risk.

He said they were believed to have been taken from one district in Wardak to a second and then into Ghazni.

"After that, the trail went dead," Janan said.

He said it was suspected that the kidnappers were Taliban because criminal gangs would have likely asked for a ransom.

About two months ago, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group had carried out an investigation and found no Taliban members were involved in the case of the missing couple.

"We do not know about these two foreigners," he said in a telephone interview.

Janan's information could not be independently verified, and U.S. and Canadian officials still do not say for certain the couple was abducted.

NATO officials said they had no current information on the case, which was turned over to the U.S. State Department after it was determined the couple were not affiliated with foreign military forces.

Coleman said his daughter and her husband met on the Internet and married in 2011. They had previously traveled through Central America so they had some experience abroad.

During their recent Asian travels, they bought local goods to help vendors, slept in their tent and hostels and interacted with villagers. Despite her travel fever, love of history and desire to do good, her father said Caitlan "wanted basically to be a housewife and have a bunch of kids."

 

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