A Taliban spokesman denied on Sunday accusations by a Canadian man that one of his children had been murdered and his wife raped while they were being held captive by militants who kidnapped them in Afghanistan in 2012.
Joshua Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were held by the Haqqani network, a semi-independent wing of the Afghan Taliban, before being rescued by Pakistani troops in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border, last week.
Boyle told reporters soon after he, his wife and their three children returned to Canada on Friday that their captors had murdered a fourth child and raped his wife.
“We strongly reject these fake and fabricated allegations of this Canadian family, now in the hands of the enemy,” he said in a statement sent to media.
Boyle called on the Taliban to “provide my family with the justice we deserve”.
Mujahid said the couple was intentionally never separated in order to protect their safety.
He also denied that their child had been murdered, but acknowledged that one child became sick and died.
“We were in a remote areas without access to a doctor and medications that led the loss of the child,” he said.
Three children, all born in captivity, were rescued along with Boyle and Coleman.
The U.S. government calls the Haqqani network “the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group” in Afghanistan.
The Haqqanis previously held U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed in a swap for Taliban prisoners in 2014, and are suspected of holding two professors, an American and an Australian, who were kidnapped outside their university in Kabul in 2016.
A senior Afghan government official told Reuters that American and Afghan special forces launched two unsuccessful raids to try to rescue the professors in Afghanistan, but officials now believe the pair has been taken to Haqqani hideouts over the border in Pakistan.