Abducted family freed after gun battle with kidnappers
Weekend, October 13-15, 2017 Taliban-linked group held Canadian, wife, kids for 5 years Canada
Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their children are finally free after five years held hostage in Afghanistan by the Talibanlinked Haqqani network.
Boyle called his parents early Thursday morning to tell of their rescue. He also told his father that they’ve had a third baby in custody, a little girl who was born two months ago.
“Josh said he was doing pretty well for someone who has spent the last five years in an underground prison,” Patrick Boyle told Torstar News Service early Thursday.
The young family is in Pakistan and plans were underway midday Thursday to fly them home.
Boyle told his parents that he was in the trunk of the kidnappers’ car with his wife and children when Pakistani forces rescued them. He said his kidnappers were killed in a shootout that left him with minor shrapnel wounds. The last words Boyle said he heard from the kidnappers were, “kill the hostages.”
Other media reports have quoted Pakistani and American officials saying the captors fled on foot.
They are reportedly traumatized by both the violence of the Thursday morning rescue and their long captivity, but healthy and recovering.
Boyle, 34, and Coleman, 31, were kidnapped by the Haqqani network in October 2012. Coleman was five-months pregnant at the time and the couple was backpacking through Central Asia. Their families did not know they had crossed into Afghanistan.
Coleman gave birth to her first son in custody, followed by a second boy a few years later.
In a letter to his parents from captivity, Boyle described delivering the child in secret, by flashlight. “Ta-da!” he wrote. “The astonished captors were good and brought all our postpartum needs, so he is now fat and healthy, praise God.”
A “proof-of-life” video showed the children alive for the first time last December.
In the video, Coleman appeals to the U.S. and Afghan government, calling their plight “Kafkaesque.”
The couple’s daughter was born this summer.
Pakistan’s government issued a press release Thursday confirming the rescue “through an intelligence-based operation by Pakistan troops and intelligence agencies.”
The statement said that U.S. agencies had been tracking the family and kidnappers as they crossed into the Kurram Agency, an area in Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan, on Wednesday. The rescue was based “on actionable intelligence from U.S. authorities,” the statement said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed relief that the family had been released.
“Canada has been actively engaged with the governments of the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan and we thank them for their efforts, which have resulted in the release of Joshua, Caitlan and their children,” Freeland said in a statement. CaPtivity July 2012: Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman travel to Russia. They later move on to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and finally to Afghanistan over the course of several months. oct. 8, 2012: Coleman’s father hears from Boyle for the last time before the couple is captured. Boyle said he was in an internet café in what he described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan. The last withdrawals from the couple’s bank account were made Oct. 8 and 9 in Kabul. An Afghan official later said the couple had been abducted in Wardak Province, a rugged, mountainous Taliban haven. Late 2012 or early 2013: Coleman’s first child is born. Coleman was pregnant at the time of her capture, and her due date was in December 2012. June 4, 2014: Coleman’s family releases two videos of Coleman and Boyle in captivity, saying the clips were provided to the family in 2013. november 2015: Coleman’s family gets a letter from Coleman in which she says she has given birth to a second child. aug. 30, 2016: A video of Coleman and Boyle is posted on YouTube. A Taliban official has said the video was recorded in 2015. December 2016: Another video is posted online, this time featuring Coleman, Boyle and their two young children. oct. 12, 2017: U.S. officials say Pakistan secured the family’s release.
this image from a 2013 militant video given to the family shows Canadian Joshua Boyle and his wife Caitlan Coleman.