Amer­i­can woman and her fam­ily, held 5 years by mil­i­tants in Afghanistan, freed


WASH­ING­TON — An Amer­i­can woman and her Cana­dian hus­band who were held hostage by mil­i­tants in Afghanistan for five years have been freed along with their young chil­dren, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Thurs­day, end­ing a case that has frus­trated diplo­mats and FBI agents try­ing to se­cure their re­lease.

Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary said that “through an in­tel­li­gence-based op­er­a­tion,” it took cus­tody on Wed­nes­day of the hostages from the Haqqani net­work, the Tal­iban fac­tion that had seized Cait­lan Cole­man, 31, and her hus­band, Josh Boyle, 34, in 2012. The Pak­istani mil­i­tary pledged to repa­tri­ate them, and U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies were track­ing the hostages as they crossed into the rugged tribal ar­eas of north­west Pak­istan.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment worked to­gether to free them, Trump said, but a se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial said Pak­istan’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vice ar­ranged the han­dover of the fam­ily af­ter be­ing pres­sured by U.S. of­fi­cials. It was not clear what, if any, con­ces­sions were made to the Haqqani net­work to en­sure the fam­ily’s re­lease.

“This is a pos­i­tive mo­ment for our coun­try’s re­la­tion­ship with Pak­istan,” Trump said in a state­ment.

“The Pak­istani gov­ern­ment’s co­op­er­a­tion is a sign that it is hon­or­ing Amer­ica’s wishes for it to do more to pro­vide se­cu­rity in the re­gion. We hope to see this type of co­op­er­a­tion and team­work in help­ing se­cure the re­lease of re­main­ing hostages and in our fu­ture joint coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions.”

The pair was kid­napped in Oc­to­ber 2012 while back­pack­ing in War­dak prov­ince, a mil­i­tant strong­hold near Kabul. At the time of her ab­duc­tion, Cole­man, who is from Penn­syl­va­nia, was preg­nant, and later gave birth. She had two more chil­dren in cap­tiv­ity, adding pres­sure to re­solve an al­ready des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion.

U.S. of­fi­cials were ex­plor­ing ways to get the fam­ily out of South Asia with Boyle pos­si­bly headed to Canada and his wife and chil­dren back to the United States.

The United States has long ac­cused Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary and its in­tel­li­gence agency of har­bor­ing or ig­nor­ing mil­i­tants, and re­la­tions have grown in­creas­ingly strained over Pak­istan’s role in Afghanistan.

In a state­ment about the hostage re­lease, the Pak­istani army said: “The suc­cess un­der­scores the im­por­tance of timely in­tel­li­gence shar­ing and Pak­istan’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to­wards fight­ing this men­ace through co­op­er­a­tion be­tween two forces against a com­mon en­emy.”


In this still from a video re­leased by Tal­iban Me­dia in De­cem­ber 2016, Cait­lan Cole­man talks while her Cana­dian hus­band, Joshua Boyle, holds their two chil­dren. Cole­man was preg­nant when she was cap­tured. The cou­ple had three chil­dren while in cap­tiv­ity, and all have been freed, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

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