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Caitlan Coleman, pregnant American woman, missing almost 3 months in Afghanistan with Canadian husband

2:07 PM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
In this undated photo provided by James Coleman, Caitlan Coleman sits with her husband, Josh (AP/FAMILY HANDOUT)
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KABUL (CBS NEWS) -- The father of a pregnant American woman missing in Afghanistan has broken his silence over her disappearance to make a desperate plea for her safe return.

James Coleman, father of 27-year-old Caitlan Coleman, told The Associated Press his daughter was traveling with her Canadian husband when she vanished in early October. The last communication came from Caitlan's husband, Josh, who said he was in an Internet cafe on Oct. 8, in what he described as an "unsafe" part of Afghanistan. Caitlin was due to give birth in January.

An Afghan official has claimed the couple was kidnapped in Wardak province, west of the capital Kabul. So far, however, there has been no clear evidence they were abducted. Many insurgent groups operate in the area, but none have claimed responsibility for their disappearance, or demanded a ransom.

"I'm not sure whether they have been kidnapped by the Taliban or not," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News on Monday. "We are still investigating."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul would only confirm that it was in contact with Coleman's family and was "coordinating closely with the Canadian authorities."

"Due to privacy considerations we cannot provide additional information about the case," embassy spokesman David Snepp told CBS News in a written statement.

A spokesperson for the governor of Wardak province, Shahidulla Shahid, was also unable to shed much light on the couple's fate.

"We are aware that an American woman and her husband have disappeared," he told CBS News, "but our investigation has found no lead in the case."

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James Coleman was at pains to even explain why his daughter was in the war-torn country to begin with. He described her to the AP as "naive" and "adventuresome," and suggested she and Josh might have been looking for an opportunity to start working for an aid agency.

Since Caitlan's disappearance, the family has become increasingly concerned about her health, as she needs regular medical attention for a liver condition.

"Our goal is to get them back safely and healthily," he said. "I don't know what kind of care they're getting or not getting. We're just an average family and we don't have good connections with anybody and we don't have a lot of money."

The couple started traveling last July, passing through Russia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan before entering Afghanistan.

The country is generally deemed unsafe for tourists and the area where they vanished is particularly dangerous for foreigners. Last year a German tourist was killed while traveling through central Afghanistan and a Canadian tourist was kidnapped not far from where Caitlan and her husband were last heard from.

Caitlan's father said the couple liked to travel primarily in small villages, getting to know locals along the way, and had said they were "heading into the mountains" before they disappeared.

Had they done so, they would have faced danger not only from Taliban groups and criminal gangs, but also from the elements. Temperatures in Afghanistan have consistently dropped below freezing in recent weeks, and conditions in the mountains are particularly harsh at this time of year.

Caitlan's father is holding out hope for his daughter's safe return.

"We appeal to whoever is caring for her to show compassion and allow Caity, Josh and our unborn grandbaby to come home," he told the AP.


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