Cap­tors or­dered to kill fam­ily, Boyle says

Cana­dian heard chilling words from in­side car trunk as Pak­ista­nis came to res­cue


A pic­ture is emerg­ing of the res­cue mis­sion that has a young North Amer­i­can fam­ily on track to re­turn home af­ter five years in cap­tiv­ity in Afghanistan.

Cana­dian Joshua Boyle, his Amer­i­can wife Cait­lan Cole­man and their three young chil­dren were in the trunk of their cap­tors’ car in Pak­istan near the Afghan border when Pak­istani troops res­cued them.

A gun bat­tle en­sued, though de­tails of what ex­actly hap­pened are not yet clear.

In a morn­ing phone call with his par­ents, who shared his ac­count with the Star, Boyle said the fight left all five kid­nap­pers dead, while he him­self was in­jured af­ter be­ing struck by shrap­nel.

He later told the Star that some of the kid­nap­pers had es­caped.

The last words Boyle said he heard from the kid­nap­pers were, “kill the hostages.”

Boyle, 34, and Cole­man, 31, were kid­napped by the Tal­iban-linked Haqqani net­work in Oc­to­ber 2012 while back­pack­ing in Afghanistan’s War­dak prov­ince — a Tal­iban strong­hold. Their three chil­dren were born in cap­tiv­ity.

Pak­istan’s ac­count of the res­cue di­verges from Boyle’s. The of­fi­cial spokesper­son of Pak­istan’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, told the Wall Street Jour­nal that Boyle’s cap­tors fled the scene on foot.

Ghafoor said Pak­istani troops tracked the cap­tors’ ve­hi­cle as it went off-road in the Kur­ram Agency re­gion, then shot out its tires. The troops then res­cued the cap­tive fam­ily from the aban­doned ve­hi­cle, he said. Ghafoor didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to the Star’s re­quest for com­ment.

Pak­istan’s High Com­mis­sioner to Canada, Tariq Azim Khan, told the CBCthere was a “clash” between the Tal­iban and the Pak­istan troops, which in­cluded gun­fire. He said he did not know how many were killed.

Of­fi­cial ac­counts from both coun­tries in­di­cate that U.S. in­tel­li­gence and Pak­istani forces to­gether were in­stru­men­tal in the fam­ily’s res­cue.

A news re­lease from Pak­istan said the fam­ily was res­cued by an “op­er­a­tion by Pak­istani forces, based on ac­tion­able in­tel­li­gence from U.S. au­thor­i­ties,” that the fam­ily and their cap­tors had crossed from Afghanistan into Pak­istan Wed­nes­day.

The res­cue rep­re­sents rare col­lab­o­ra­tion between coun­tries whose re­la­tion­ship has been his­tor­i­cally tense over the is­sue of ter­ror­ism.

The U.S. has been highly crit­i­cal of Pak­istan for fail­ing to crack down on the Haqqani net­work, which has a his­tory of kid­nap­ping and hold­ing West­ern­ers.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was quick to take credit for the col­lab­o­ra­tion. In a speech on Wed­nes­day night, he said that “a coun­try that did not re­spect us . . . re­spects us now,” an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the res­cue.

CNN re­ported that the res­cue by Pak­istani armed forces came as a “sur­prise” to the U.S. The Amer­i­cans had been dis­cussing a U.S.-staged res­cue at­tempt when Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties in­formed them that they’d al­ready taken cus­tody of the fam­ily, the net­work said, cit­ing an un­named se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial.

Res­cue op­er­a­tions are of­ten dan- ger­ous for cap­tives.

New Amer­ica, a U.S. think tank, re­ported that 20 per cent of hostages were killed in res­cue at­tempts between 2001 and 2016. Out­comes were worse over­all for Amer­i­can hostages, the re­port said. Of all Amer­i­cans taken cap­tive in that pe­riod, 43 per cent died, re­mained in cap­tiv­ity or were un­ac­counted for, com­pared with 19 per cent for West­ern­ers over­all.

Plans are un­der­way for the Boyle fam­ily’s re­turn to North Amer­ica. Sources told the Star that the U.S. had of­fered to trans­port them on a mil­i­tary flight, but Boyle asked to be brought home by Cana­dian of­fi­cials in­stead. With files from Michelle Shep­hard


The news of the re­lease of Joshua Boyle, his wife Cait­lan Cole­man and their three chil­dren is broad­cast at an elec­tronic shop in Islamabad, Pak­istan.

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