Kid­napped, held 5 years, US-Cana­dian fam­ily freed in Pak­istan

Manila Bulletin - - World News - POPE FRAN­CIS

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Five years af­ter they were seized by a ter­ror­ist net­work in the moun­tains of Afghanistan, an Amer­i­can wo­man, her Cana­dian hus­band and their chil­dren — all three born in cap­tiv­ity — are free af­ter a dra­matic res­cue or­ches­trated by the US and Pak­istani gov­ern­ments, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

The US said Pak­istan ac­com­plished the re­lease of Cait­lan Cole­man of Ste­wart­stown, Penn­syl­va­nia, and her hus­band, Cana­dian Joshua Boyle, who were ab­ducted and held by the Haqqani net­work, which has ties to the Tal­iban and is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by the United States. The op­er­a­tion, which came af­ter years of US pres­sure on Pak­istan for as­sis­tance, un­folded quickly and in­cluded what some de­scribed as a shootout and a dan­ger­ous raid. US of­fi­cials did not con­firm the de­tails.

“To­day they are free,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in a state­ment, cred­it­ing the US-Pak­istani part­ner­ship for se­cur­ing the re­lease. Trump later praised Pak­istan for its will­ing­ness to “do more to pro­vide se­cu­rity in the re­gion” and said the re­lease sug­gests other “coun­tries are start­ing to re­spect the United States of Amer­ica once again.”

The cou­ple were kid­napped in Oc­to­ber of 2012 while on a back­pack­ing trip that took them to Rus­sia, the coun­tries of Kaza­khstan, Ta­jik­istan and Kyr­gyzs­tan, and then to Afghanistan. Cole­man was sev­eral months preg­nant at the time, “naive,” but also “ad­ven­ture­some” with a hu­man­i­tar­ian bent, her fa­ther James told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2012.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary said early Thurs­day the fam­ily was “be­ing repa­tri­ated to the coun­try of their ori­gin.” But as of Thurs­day evening, it was not known when they would re­turn to North Amer­ica. They were to­gether in a safe, undis­closed lo­ca­tion in Pak­istan, ac­cord­ing to a US na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, who wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the case pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary said the fam­ily had been freed in “an in­tel­li­gence-based op­er­a­tion by Pak­istan troops” af­ter they’d crossed the border from Afghanistan.

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