Canadian-American family freed in commando raid
Canadian man, his U.S. wife and their 3 children had been held captive for 5 years by group linked to Taliban
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, his wife Caitlan Coleman and their children had been freed in “an intelligencebased operation” after they’d 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 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.
Canada’s 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, Ont., say their son and his family want 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.”
Earlier Thursday, they issued a video statement released to the Toronto Star saying they spoke with their son over the phone early Thursday morning.
“That’s the first time in five years we got to hear his voice. It was amazing,” Linda Boyle said. “He told us . . . how much his children were looking forward to meeting their grandparents, and that he’d see me in a couple days.”
Patrick Boyle also thanked those involved in the case.
“We’d really like to thank the American and Afghan governments as well as our own Canadian team,” he said. “Most importantly, this morning we relayed to the high commissioner of Pakistan here in Canada our profound thanks for the courageous Pakistani soldiers who risked their lives and got all five of ours out in a rescue.”
RCMP officers were keeping reporters away from the family’s home in Smiths Falls, located about 80 kilometres west of Ottawa.