New Taliban hostage video aims to 'pressurise Afghan government over militant execution'

New Taliban hostage video aims to 'pressurise Afghan government over militant execution'

A video grab of the hostages Caitlan Coleman and her husband Joshua Boyle. The husband-wife duo was abducted in 2012. (Image courtesy: YouTube) (WION)

Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan | Aug 31, 2016, 09.09 PM (IST)

A video featuring a US and a Canadian citizen held hostage by the Taliban has been released by the hardline group to pressure the Afghan government not to execute a senior Taliban leader, according to multiple reports. 

A senior Taliban member, according to Reuters news agency, spoke on the conditions of anonymity saying that Taliban wants Afghan government to avert the death sentence on militant leader Anas Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and founder of the feared Haqqani network. 

US and Canadian officials have said they are aware of the video of Caitlan Coleman, a a 30-year-old US citizen and her 33-year-old Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, who were kidnapped in 2012 while on a backpacking trip, The Reuters reported. 

In the video, Coleman, who was pregnant at the time of being abducted and gave birth to two children while in captivity, appeals to the governments of US and Canada to change the policies of the Afghan government. 

"Our captors are terrified of the thought of their own mortality approaching, and are saying that they will take reprisals on our family. They will execute us, women and children included, if the policies of the Afghan government are not overturned. And therefore we ask Canada and the United States, and that we will - our family - will be able to live safely," Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News quotes her as saying.  
 

In the video, Coleman, who was pregnant at the time of being abducted and gave birth to two children while in captivity, appeals to the governments of US and Canada to change the policies of the Afghan government. 


The video, according to ABC News, is the first glimpse of the couple since 2014, when her parents released two short video clips of them speaking in captivity.  

 "The Haqqanis are ticked off," a counterterrorism official familiar with hostage recovery operations told ABC NEWS. 

Meanwhile, US state department spokesman John Kirby said the United States was concerned about the welfare of the couple and their family and "continue to urge for their immediate release on humanitarian grounds."

He also added that the United States was "regularly engaged with the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan at the highest levels to emphasise our commitment to seeing our citizens return safely to their families."

The Haqqanis is a militant Islamist group affiliated with the Taliban that is known for kidnappings and high profile attacks in cities like Kabul. 

Anas Haqqani is currently on trial in Afghanistan and faces the death sentence. Afghan media reported on Tuesday that he had probably been sentenced to death in a preliminary procedure that is not public but there has been no official confirmation or comment. The preliminary ruling would not in any case be definitive until a final verdict in the case is issued.

In May, Afghanistan hanged six Taliban prisoners on deathrow following a suicide attack that killed more than 60 people in Kabul.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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