Pa. relatives plead for couple missing in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Central Pennsylvania family of an ailing, pregnant American woman missing in Afghanistan with her Canadian husband has broken months of silence over the mysterious case, making public appeals for the couple's safe return.

James Coleman of York County, the father of 27-year-old Caitlan Coleman, told The Associated Press over the weekend that she was due to deliver in January and needed urgent medical attention for a liver ailment that required regular checkups. He said he and his wife, Lyn, last heard from their son-in-law Josh on Oct. 8 from an Internet cafe in what Josh described as an "unsafe" part of Afghanistan. The Colemans asked that Josh be identified by his first name only to protect his privacy.

The couple had embarked on a journey last July that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then finally to Afghanistan.

Neither the Taliban nor any other militant group has claimed it is holding the couple, leading some to believe they were kidnapped. But no ransom demand has been made.

An Afghan official said their trail has gone dead.

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.

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.

"Our goal is to get them back safely and healthy," the father told AP on Friday night by phone. "I don't know what kind of care they're getting or not getting," he added. "We're just an average family and we don't have connections with anybody and we don't have a lot of money."

James Coleman said he was not entirely sure what his daughter and her husband were doing in Afghanistan. But he surmised they may have been seeking to help Afghans by joining an aid group after touring the region. In the AP interview, he described his daughter as "naive" and "adventuresome" with a humanitarian bent.

Both the U.S. State Department and Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry say they are looking into the disappearance.

world - state


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