Pakistan rescues Us-canadian family held captive for five years
Couple had three children while held by group with links to Taleban
An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children have been released after years of being held captive by a group with ties to the Taleban and called a terrorist organisation by the United States, American and Pakistani officials said yesterday.
US officials said Pakistan secured the release of Caitlan Coleman of Pennsylvania, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, who were abducted five years ago while travelling in Afghanistan and had been held by the Haqqani network.
Ms Coleman was pregnant when she was captured. The couple had three children while in captivity, and all have been freed, US officials said.
“Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the governat ment of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-coleman family from captivity in Pakistan,” US president Donald Trump said in a statement. “Today they are free.”
The Pakistani military confirmed the release and said the family was “being repatriated to the country of their origin”.
But as of yesterday morning, the family’s precise whereabouts were unclear and it was not immediately known when they would return to North America. The family was not in US custody, though they were said to be together in a safe location in Pakistan, according to a US national security official.
US officials had planned on moving the family out of Pakistan on a transport plane, but at the last minute Mr Boyle would not get on, the official said.
Another US official said Mr Boyle was nervous about being in “custody” given his background. Mr Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian man who spent ten years at Guantanamo Bay after being captured in 2002 in a firefight an al-qaeda compound in Afghanistan.
Officials discounted any link between that background and Mr Boyle’s capture, with one official describing it as a “horrible coincidence”.
The couple has told US officials that they wanted to fly commercially to Canada, according to the official.
The release came together rapidly. It happened nearly five years to the day since Ms Coleman and Mr Boyle lost touch with their families while travelling in a mountainous region near the Afghan capital of Kabul.
The couple set off in the summer 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.
Ms Coleman’s parents last heard from their son-in-law on 8 October, 2012, from an internet cafe in what Boyle described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.
In 2013, the couple appeared in two videos asking the US government to free them from the Taleban.
Ms Coleman’s parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, told the online Circa News service in July 2016 that they received a letter from their daughter in November 2015, in which she wrote that she had given birth to a second child in captivity. It is unclear whether they knew she had given birth to a third.
“I pray to hear from you again, to hear how everybody is doing,” the letter said.
In that interview, Mr Coleman issued a plea to top Taleban commanders to be “kind and merciful” and let the couple go.
“As a man, father and now grandfather, I am asking you to show mercy and release my daughter, her husband, and our beautiful grandchildren,” Mr Coleman said.
“Please grant them an opportunity to continue their lives with us, and bring peace to their families.”
The family was being held by the Haqqani network.
US officials called the group a terrorist organisation and have targeted its leaders with drone strikes.
0 Pakistani soldiers standing guard at a checkpoint in Afghanistan, where a family has been freed by the Haqqani network
0 Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman pictured in captivity