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Pakistan 'frees' Taliban hostage family

13 October 2017

The Canadian family held hostage in Afghanistan by the militant Taliban-linked Haqqani network has been freed, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement released Thursday.

US President Donald Trump said it was "a positive moment" for US-Pakistan relations.

"They've been essentially living in a hole for five years", Kelly said.

A US government source in Washington also said there was no indication the family had been in Afghanistan.

Just over five years ago, soon after they Wednesday, Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle set off on a journey to areas of the world infrequently traveled by Westerners, an admittedly quixotic trek their parents say was in keeping with the couple's adventure-seeking spirit.

Boyle had once been married to the sister of an inmate at the US military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. The marriage ended and the inmate was later released to Canada.

A senior Pakistani security source on Friday detailed how the family, who were expected to leave Pakistan on Friday, were freed following a auto chase in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan. They became close, and Boyle eventually attended his wedding. "It was awesome. He told us how much his children were looking forward meeting their grandparents", his mother, Linda Boyle, said.

Another military official told AFP the couple was hesitating to board a USA military jet in Pakistan over the Canadian husband's concerns he could face American scrutiny for links to a former Guantanamo captive. "In fact, no one has ever done this much more for the safe havens", the official said.

Pakistan fiercely denies such ties, and it touted the operation as proof of the strength of the alliance.

"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", a Pakistani army statement said.

"Most importantly this morning we relayed to the high commissioner of Pakistan here in Canada our profound thanks for the courageous Pakistani soldiers who risked their lives and got all five of ours out in a rescue" added Patrick Boyle. "The United States government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan", Mr Trump said. Boyle said he sustained minor shrapnel wounds during the shootout, which left his kidnappers dead.

However, the recent successful rescue operation of an American-Canadian family by Pakistani forces have pleased Trump and he applauded the country for its efforts.

A USA national security official, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said US officials had planned on moving the family out of Pakistan on a USA transport plane, but at the last minute Boyle would not get on, the official said.

The sign asked that their privacy be respected while they "make plans for the future".

Boyle and Coleman were held for five years by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network in Afghanistan. "We are prepared to bring them back home", the official said.

She was pregnant at the time with her first child.

Some officials said Pakistanis' motive for freeing the hostages may have been political rather than humanitarian, meant to reduce the tensions ahead of upcoming visits by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The Pakistan Army says it has recovered a Canadian, his US National wife and their three children from "terrorist custody" after receiving intelligence from US officials.


Pakistan 'frees' Taliban hostage family