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

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE -

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 U.S. and Pak­istani gov­ern­ments, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

The U.S. 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 U.S. pres­sure on Pak­istan for as­sis­tance, un­folded quickly and in­cluded what some de­scribed as a shootout and a dan­ger­ous raid. U.S. of­fi­cials did not con­firm the de­tails.

“To­day they are free,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said in a state­ment, cred­it­ing the U.S.-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 U.S. 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.

Boyle and the High Com­mis­sioner for Pak­istan to Canada de­scribed a scene in which gun­shots rang out as Boyle, his wife and their chil­dren were in­ter­cepted by Pak­istani forces while be­ing trans­ported in the trunk of their cap­tors’ car. Boyle told his par­ents there was a shootout in which some of his cap­tors were killed and that the last words he’d heard from the kid­nap­pers were, “kill the hostage,” his fa­ther, Pa­trick told re­porters af­ter speak­ing with his son. The younger Boyle also told his fa­ther he’d been hit by shrap­nel in the leg. Three in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said the con­fronta­tion hap­pened near a road cross­ing in the Nawa Kili area of the district of Ko­hat in north­west Pak­istan.

The high com­mis­sioner, Tariq Azim Khan, said, “We know there was a shootout and Pak­istan com­man­dos car­ried out an at­tack and res­cued the hostages.” A U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said that a mil­i­tary hostage team had flown to Pak­istan Wed­nes­day, pre­pared to fly the fam­ily out.

TAL­IBAN ME­DIA VIA AP

In this im­age from video re­leased by Tal­iban Me­dia in De­cem­ber 2016, Cait­lan Cole­man talks in the video while her Cana­dian hus­band Joshua Boyle holds their two chil­dren.

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