Fam­ily free af­ter five years cap­tive

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS -

CANA­DIAN man, his Amer­i­can wife and their three young chil­dren — born dur­ing the cou­ple’s five years in cap­tiv­ity — were freed in a dra­matic 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 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 once the mil­i­tary re­ceived word of the fam­ily’s where­abouts from United States in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties, it 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

Aand 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 United States, Pak­istan and Afghanistan, whom she thanked.

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.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear when the cou­ple would re­turn to North Amer­ica.

Boyle’s par­ents, who live in Smiths Falls, Ont., 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.”

His fa­ther, Pa­trick Boyle, 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.”

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 was not in Amer­i­can cus­tody but 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, the sis­ter of Cana­dian Omar Khadr, who spent 10 years at Guan­tanamo Bay af­ter be­ing cap­tured when he was 15 in Afghanistan.

Of­fi­cials dis­counted any link between that back­ground and Boyle’s cap­ture. Free­land stressed that Boyle was not the fo­cus of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The re­lease came nearly five years to the day since Boyle and Cole­man lost touch with their fam­i­lies while trav­el­ling in a moun­tain­ous re­gion near the Afghan cap­i­tal, Kabul.

The cou­ple had set off in the sum­mer of 2012 for a jour­ney that took them to Rus­sia, the cen­tral Asian coun­tries of Kaza­khstan, Ta­jik­istan and Kyr­gyzs­tan, and then to Afghanistan. Cole­man’s par­ents last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an in­ter­net cafe in what Boyle de­scribed as an “un­safe” part of Afghanistan.

The cou­ple ap­peared in a se­ries of videos be­gin­ning in 2013; th­ese were shared on­line. In one posted last De­cem­ber, the pair urged gov­ern­ments on all sides to reach a deal to se­cure the fam­ily’s free­dom.


Cait­lan Cole­man talks

in a 2016 Tal­iban­filmed video while hus­band Joshua Boyle holds their two el­dest chil­dren.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.