Canadian hostages held for 5 years in Afghanistan freed

2017-10-13 04:44:22 GMT2017-10-13 12:44:22(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

OTTAWA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Canadian family held hostage inAfghanistan by the militant Taliban-linked Haqqani network has beenfreed, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in astatement released Thursday.

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

"Canada has been actively engaged with the governments of theUnited States, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we thank them fortheir 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 sheand Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a meeting withPresident Enrique Pena Nieto, that she was "not at liberty todescribe the circumstances" of the family's release, whilestressing 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 duringtheir Wednesday trip to Washington.

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

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

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

In a video posted on Thursday by the Toronto Star, a major dailyCanadian newspaper, Boyle's parents said they were expected to seetheir son "in a couple of days" after speaking to him for the firsttime in five years.

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

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

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

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

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