Captives freed in Pakistan
American-Canadian couple, their three kids released after five years
WASHINGTON — 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, Pennsylvania, and her husband, 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.
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 had been a shoot-out and that the last words he'd heard from the kidnappers were, “Kill the hostage,” his father, Patrick Boyle, told The Toronto Star after speaking with his son.
The Pakistani military said early Thursday that the family was “being repatriated to the country of their origin.”
The release came together rapidly Wednesday. It happened nearly five years to the day after Coleman and Boyle lost touch with their families while traveling in a mountainous region near the Afghan capital of Kabul.
The couple set off in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan. Coleman's parents last heard from their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, from an internet cafe in what Boyle described as an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan.
The only trace of the couple since then has been in the form of videos released by their captors and letters.