An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children who were kidnapped by a Taliban-affiliated group in Afghanistan five years ago have been freed, Pakistani authorities said Thursday.
The Pakistani military said its soldiers recovered the family in an operation based on U.S. intelligence.
Caitlan Coleman and her husband Joshua Boyle were abducted in 2012 while traveling in Afghanistan and were held captive by the Haqqani network, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. has criticized Pakistan for failing to deal with the group.
Coleman, 32, from Stewartstown, Pa., was seven months pregnant when she was captured after travelling to Afghanistan via Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Fox News reported. The couple had three children while in captivity.
In a statement Thursday, President Trump said: “Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan.
“Today they are free. This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan.”
The couple appeared in two videos in 2013 where they asked the U.S. government to free them. In a Dec. 2016 video, they urged the U.S. and Canada to help secure their release.
“They were captured by terrorists from Afghanistan during 2012 and kept as hostages there. US intelligence agencies had been tracking them and shared their shifting across to Pakistan on 11 Oct 2017 through Kurram Agency border,” a statement by the Pakistani army said.
It added that “all hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin. “
Coleman’s parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, told the Circa News service last summer that they received a letter from their daughter in November 2015, and she wrote she had a second child in captivity.
“I pray to hear from you again, to hear how everybody is doing,” thir daughter said.
“As a man, father and now grandfather, I am asking you to show mercy and release my daughter, her husband, and our beautiful grandchildren,” Jim Coleman told Circa News.
“Please grant them an opportunity to continue their lives with us, and bring peace to their families.”
Trump called on Pakistan to do more to tackle militant groups on its soil in a speech in August announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said at the time.
In his statement Thursday, Trump said: The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.
“We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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