Taliban-linked group releases family
An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children have been released after years of being held captive by a group that has ties to the Taliban and is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, US and Pakistani officials said yesterday.
US officials said Pakistan secured the release of Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, who were abducted five years ago while travelling in Afghanistan and held by the Haqqani network.
Coleman was pregnant at the time, and gave birth to her three children while in captivity, officials said.
"Today they are free," President Donald Trump said in a statement, crediting the US government with securing the release "working in conjunction with the government of Pakistan".
Trump later praised Pakistan for its willingness to "do more to provide security in the region" and said the release suggests other "countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again".
The Pakistani military said the family had been freed in "an intelligence-based operation by Pakistan troops" after they had crossed the border from Afghanistan.
Boyle and the high commissioner for Pakistan to Canada described a dramatic scene in which gunshots rang out as Boyle, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the trunk of their captors' car. Boyle told his parents that there had been a shoot-out and that the last words he had heard from the kidnappers were "kill the hostage", his father, Patrick, told The Toronto Star after speaking with his son. Three intelligence officials said the confrontation happened near a road crossing in the Nawa Kili area of the district of Kohat in north-west Pakistan.
The high commissioner, Tariq Azim Khan, said, "We know there was a shoot-out and Pakistan commandos carried out an attack and rescued the hostages."
The Pakistani military said early yesterday that the family was "being repatriated to the country of their origin".