The army yesterday said it had rescued a kidnapped US-Canadian couple and their three children after receiving intelligence from the US, nearly five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan.
American Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle and the children born in captivity were believed to be held by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.
Coleman and Boyle were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012.
Coleman was pregnant at the time, and a video released by the Taliban in December showed their two sons born while they were hostages.
Yesterday’s statement was the first mention of a third child.
The rescue came as Pakistan and the US, allies in fighting militancy in the region, are experiencing one of the worst lows in relations.
Pakistan touted the success of 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 co-operation between two forces against a common enemy,” the Pakistani army statement said.
The family were released from “terrorist custody”. US intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and on Wednesday shared that the family had been moved across to Pakistan through Kurram tribal area border, the army said.
No other details were immediately available.
US President Donald Trump said the couple’s release was a “positive moment” for US relations with Pakistan.
“Coleman gave birth to the couple’s three children while they were in captivity,” Trump said, in a White House statement. “Today, they are free.”
“This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan. The Pakistani government’s co-operation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” Trump said.
“We hope to see this type of co-operation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Pakistan for its role in the rescue of the family and said he hoped the move would deepen ties between the nations.
“President Trump’s new South Asia strategy recognises the important role Pakistan needs to play to bring stability and ultimately peace to the region,” Tillerson said, recognising the role played by the Pakistani government and military along with US diplomats in securing the release.
“The US is hopeful that Pakistan’s actions will further a US-Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects.”
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