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