‘FREE AT LAST’

Cana­dian and his fam­ily held by Tal­iban headed home af­ter daring res­cue

Ottawa Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

A Cana­dian man, his Amer­i­can wife and their three young chil­dren born dur­ing the cou­ple’s five years in cap­tiv­ity were freed in a Pak­istani com­mando raid and shootout, au­thor­i­ties an­nounced Thurs­day.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary said Joshua Boyle, wife Cait­lan Cole­man and their chil­dren had been freed in “an in­tel­li­gence-based op­er­a­tion” af­ter they had crossed the border from Afghanistan, where they had been ab­ducted by a group with ties to the Tal­iban.

Tariq Azim Khan, the coun­try’s high com­mis­sioner to Canada, said that once the mil­i­tary re­ceived word of the fam­ily’s where­abouts from U.S. in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties, they acted quickly.

Khan de­scribed a dra­matic scene in which gun­shots rang out as the fam­ily was in­ter­cepted by Pak­istani forces while be­ing trans­ported by their cap­tors in the trunk of a van.

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials in Pak­istan said the con­fronta­tion hap­pened near a road cross­ing in the Nawa Kili area of the district of Ko­hat in north­west Pak­istan.

“We know there was a shootout and Pak­istan com­man­dos car­ried out an at­tack and res­cued the hostages,” Khan said from Lon­don.

Cana­dian For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, who has met with the Boyle fam­ily in the past, said they had en­dured an “ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble or­deal.”

Free­land re­fused to de­scribe the cir­cum­stances of the re­lease, cit­ing se­cu­rity rea­sons but said Canada had been work­ing with the U.S., Pak­istan and Afghanistan, whom she thanked.

“We all have to re­ally re­mem­ber what a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence this fam­ily has gone through — re­ally un­speak­able,” Free­land said in Mex­ico City.

Boyle and Cole­man, who was preg­nant at the time of the ab­duc­tion, were held by the Haqqani net­work, a group U.S. of­fi­cials call a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Boyle’s par­ents, who live in Smiths Falls, said their son and his fam­ily in­tend to come to Canada.

“The fam­ily has cho­sen Canada,” Pa­trick Boyle said Thurs­day evening. “We’re hop­ing to know our­selves when we get to go pick them up.”

The fam­ily were safe but ex­hausted, Pa­trick Boyle said.

“We just spoke to them again re­cently,” Boyle said. “He (Joshua) said they’ve all been up since Tues­day, so he was very pleased, he’s run­ning on empty.”

Joshua’s mother Linda had no doubt what the first thing she in­tended to do when she sees her son and fam­ily.

“Hug them, slob­ber kisses all over them,” she said.

Cole­man’s par­ents, mean­while, posted a state­ment on the door of their Penn­syl­va­nia home say­ing they ap­pre­ci­ated “all the in­ter­est and con­cern be­ing ex­pressed at the joy­ful news that Caity, Josh and our grand­chil­dren have been re­leased af­ter five long years of cap­tiv­ity.”

A U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, who wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the case pub­licly, said the fam­ily were to­gether in a safe lo­ca­tion in Pak­istan.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials had planned on mov­ing the fam­ily out of Pak­istan on a U.S. trans­port plane but Boyle re­fused to board, the of­fi­cial said.

An­other U.S. of­fi­cial said Boyle was ner­vous about be­ing in “cus­tody” given that he was pre­vi­ously mar­ried to Zaynab Khadr, sis­ter of Cana­dian Omar Khadr, who spent 10 years at Guan­tanamo Bay af­ter be­ing cap­tured when he was 15 in Afghanistan.

TAL­IBAN ME­DIA VIA AP

Cait­lan Cole­man talks in a video re­leased last De­cem­ber while hus­band Joshua Boyle holds their two chil­dren.

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