WASHINGTON – An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children — who had been held captive since 2012 by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network — were freed after an operation involving Pakistani forces, officials announced Thursday.
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Caitlan Coleman, 32, was seven months pregnant when she and her husband, Josh Boyle, were abducted.
“Today they are free. This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan,” President Donald Trump said in a statement Thursday. “The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”
U.S. officials did not immediately comment on the Pakistani report.
However, in a speech Wednesday in Coleman’s home state of Pennsylvania, President Trump said: “Something happened today, where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news.” “And one of my generals came in. They said, ‘You know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would’ve never done that.’ It was a great sign of respect. You’ll probably be hearing about it over the next few days. But this is a country that did not respect us. This is a country that respects us now. The world is starting to respect us again, believe me,” the president added.
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 12, 2017
Coleman and Boyle were last seen in a hostage video in December 2016 pleading for their governments to intervene.
The two vanished after setting off in the summer of 2012 for a journey that took them to Russia, the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan.
In the 2016 YouTube video, Coleman refers to “the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves” and urges “governments on both sides” to reach a deal for their freedom. She then adds: “My children have seen their mother defiled.”
Two young children appear in the video with them, and Coleman has told her family that she gave birth to two children in captivity. It was revealed Thursday that Coleman had a third child.
“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” Coleman says in the 2016 video, reading a prepared statement and making a plea to former President Barack Obama. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”
In that interview with Circa News in 2016, Jim Coleman issued a plea to top Taliban commanders to be “kind and merciful” and let the couple go.
“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 said. “Please grant them an opportunity to continue their lives with us, and bring peace to their families.”
Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistan Army recovered five abducted foreigners kidnapped by terrorists in 2012 after an operation. According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the hostages included a Canadian, his American wife, and their three children which were recovered “through an intelligence-based operation by Pakistani troops.”
“They were captured by terrorists from Afghanistan in 2012 and kept as hostages there,” the military’s media wing said. “All hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin,” it added.