March 20, 2018

Pakistan 'frees' Taliban hostage family

13 October 2017, 02:59 | Taylor George

A still image from a video posted by the Taliban on social media

A still image from a video posted by the Taliban on social media

-Canadian couple and their children in a raid that led to the family's release, a Pakistani security official said on Friday.

Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, boarded a flight in Islamabad with his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their three children, the military source with direct knowledge of the arrangement told CNN.

"We're pleased that the ordeal that they've been through these past years has finally come to an end", he said at the press conference.

Taliban sources said the family spent most of their captivity at Haqqani strongholds inside Pakistan, and not in Afghanistan as early Pakistani reports had indicated.

Coleman gave birth to three children in captivity, and Boyle delivered at least one with a flashlight in his mouth before captors brought them "all [their] postpartum needs".

U.S. intelligence services had been tracking the movement of the hostages and informed their Pakistani partners when the hostages were moved across the Pak-Afghan border into Kurram Agency on October 11, 2017.

Boyle was previously married to the sister of Omar Kadhr, a Canadian imprisoned for 10 years at the USA detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. "It was fantastic. He told us how much his children were looking forward meeting their grandparents", his mother, Linda Boyle, said.

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US officials expressed hope that the hostages' freedom could represent a turning point in relations between Pakistan and the United States, uneasy allies in fighting Taliban and other Islamist extremists in the region.

The US official said there are some questions surrounding Boyle's past, but the Department of Justice said he did not face arrest.

Meanwhile, the parents of Joshua Boyle thanked the Pakistan Army for rescuing their son and his family.

The last time anyone heard from Coleman, the York County native spoke of the "Kafkaesque nightmare" she and her husband had been trapped in for almost five years.

The Star reported that Boyle said he sustained minor shrapnel wounds during the shootout. It was revealed Thursday that Coleman had a third child. "We stand ready to support them as they begin their healing journey", Freeland said.

The Haqqani network operates on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistani border but senior militants have acknowledged they moved a major base of operations to Kurram agency in the tribal areas.

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. This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan.

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