Fam­ily freed af­ter be­ing held by Tal­iban group

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - WORLD - By Jill Colvin, Lolita C. Baldor and Munir Ahmed

ISLAMABAD — Five years af­ter be­ing taken hostage in Afghanistan, an Amer­i­can wo­man and her Cana­dian hus­band are free, along with their three chil­dren, all born in cap­tiv­ity. They were re­leased in a dra­matic con­fronta­tion punc­tu­ated by gun­fire, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day, though the cir­cum­stances were not en­tirely clear.

U.S. of­fi­cials said Pak­istan ac­com­plished the re­lease of Cait­lan Cole­man of Ste­wart­stown, Pa., 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.

Cole­man was preg­nant when ab­ducted and gave birth to her three chil­dren while a cap­tive, of­fi­cials said.

“To­day they are free,” Pres­i­dent Trump said in a state­ment, cred­it­ing the U.S. govern­ment with se­cur­ing the re­lease “work­ing in con­junc­tion with the Govern­ment of Pak­istan.”

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 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’d been a shoot-out and that the last words he’d heard from the kid­nap­pers were, “kill the hostage,” his fa­ther, Pa­trick told The Toronto Star af­ter speak­ing with his son.

A U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said that a mil­i­tary hostage team had a trans­port plane ready to fly the fam­ily to the U.S. But Boyle said he did not want to board.

An­other U.S. of­fi­cial said Boyle was ner­vous about be­ing in “cus­tody” given his back­ground.

Boyle was once mar­ried to Zaynab Khadr, the older sis­ter of for­mer Guan­tanamo Bay de­tainee Omar Khadr and the daugh­ter of a late se­nior al Qaeda fi­nancier.

But of­fi­cials had dis­counted any link between that back­ground and Boyle’s cap­ture, with one of­fi­cial de­scrib­ing it in 2014 as a “hor­ri­ble co­in­ci­dence.” Jill Colvin, Lolita C. Baldor and Munir Ahmed are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

Tal­iban Me­dia 2016

Amer­i­can Cait­lan Cole­man talks in a video while her Cana­dian hus­band, Joshua Boyle, holds two of their three chil­dren. The cou­ple was ab­ducted in 2012 while trav­el­ing in Afghanistan.

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