Family released after five years in captivity
Five years after they were seized by a terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children — born in captivity — are free after a dramatic rescue by the US and Pakistani governments.
The US said Pakistan secured the release of Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle — who were held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban.
The operation, which came after years of US pressure on Pakistan for assistance, unfolded quickly and included what some described as a shootout and a dangerous raid. US officials did not confirm the details.
US President Donald Trump praised Pakistan for its willingness to “do more to provide security in the region” and said the release suggested other “countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again”.
The couple were kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpacking trip to Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.
Ms Coleman, a devout Catholic, was several months pregnant at the time, “naive”, but also “adventuresome” with a humanitarian bent, her father James said in 2012.
The only trace of the couple since they vanished had been in the form of videos released by their captors and family letters.
The Pakistani military said the family were “being repatriated to the country of their origin”. But it was not yet known when they would return to North America.
A US security official said they were in a safe location in Pakistan.
The Pakistani military said the family had been freed after they had crossed the border from Afghanistan. Mr Boyle described a scene in which shots rang out as he, his wife and children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the trunk of their captors’ car.
Mr Boyle told his parents there was a shootout in which some of his captors were killed and the last words he had heard from the kidnappers were “kill the hostage”, his father, Patrick, said. Joshua Boyle told his father he’d been hit by shrapnel in the leg. Intelligence officials said the confrontation happened near a road crossing in Kohat in north-west Pakistan.
A US military official said a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan on Wednesday, prepared to fly the family out. But as the family were walking to the plane, Joshua Boyle said he did not want to board.
His father said his son was concerned because the plane was headed to Bagram Air Base and he wanted the family returned to North America.
Another US official said Joshua Boyle was nervous about being in “custody” given his family ties. He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior alQaida financier.
Kill the hostage. Kidnappers’ call during the attack
An image released by the Taliban last year of Caitlan Coleman, Joshua Boyle and their children.
Linda and Patrick Boyle, parents of Joshua Boyle.