Canadian hostages held for 5 years in Afghanistan freed

OTTAWA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- 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.

Canadian national Joshua Boyle, 34, and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, 31 were kidnapped in early October 2012 after they crossed into Afghanistan during a backpacking trip through central Asia. Coleman was pregnant at the time and they are now back free with three children, having given birth during the captivity.

"Canada has been actively engaged with the governments of the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we thank them for their efforts, which have resulted in the release of Joshua, Caitlan and their children," Freeland said in the statement.

On Thursday Freeland told reporters in Mexico City, where she and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, that she was "not at liberty to describe the circumstances" of the family's release, while stressing that no ransom was paid.

Freeland said she and Trudeau mentioned Boyle's case with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump during their Wednesday trip to Washington.

According to a White House statement also issued on Thursday, Trump said that the United States in cooperation with Pakistan secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Armed Forces said in a statement on Thursday that U.S. intelligences had been tracking the family and their kidnappers as they entered Pakistan from Afghanistan on Wednesday. The early Thursday rescue operation "by Pakistani forces, based on actionable intelligence from U.S. authorities was successful."

"All hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin," it said.

In a video posted on Thursday by the Toronto Star, a major daily Canadian newspaper, Boyle's parents said they were expected to see their son "in a couple of days" after speaking to him for the first time in five years.

"Most importantly, this morning we relayed to the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Canada our profound thanks for the courageous Pakistani soldiers who risked their lives and got all five of ours out safely in a rescue," said Boyle's father, Patrick, on the video that was shared on the Twitter account of Pakistani army spokesman Asif Ghafoor.

Boyle's sister, Kaeryn, told Xinhua that "We're really glad that they're free."

Boyle reportedly told his parents that he and his family were in the trunk of a car when they were rescued during a shoot-out that left the captors dead and Boyle injured with minor shrapnel wounds.

The Toronto Star reported that the last words Boyle heard from the kidnappers were "kill the hostages."

The U.S. government offered a military flight to transport Boyle and his family to the United States or to Canada, or "anywhere they wanted to go." Boyle told his parents that he wants to return to Canada with his family. Enditem

[ Editor: meng ]


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