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.