Cap­tives freed in Pak­istan

Amer­i­can-Cana­dian cou­ple, their three kids re­leased af­ter five years

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Jill Colvin, Lolita C. Baldor and Munir Ahmed

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.

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