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13 October 2017, 03:00 | Devin Moran
PAKISTANI forces have rescued an American woman and her family who had been held by a Pakistan-based militant group for five years.
The two Pakistani security officials say Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, York County, her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, along with their three children left by plane from Islamabad on Friday. They are known to have had children while in captivity.
In 2009, Boyle was briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of Canadian-born Omar Khadr who spent a decade at Guantanamo.
But one US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was no indication that the hostages had been in Afghanistan in the days before they were freed, contrary to the Pakistani account.
The rescue, prompted by a tip from US intelligence officers tracking the family, was announced in a statement Thursday from Pakistan's army.
Coleman was pregnant at the time she was kidnapped, and a video released by the Taliban in December showed two sons born while she and her husband were hostages.
In a statement released on Thursday in Ottawa, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the Canadian government was relieved that the Boyle family was released and thanked the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan for their joint efforts in the rescue mission.
The US official said there are some questions surrounding Boyle's past, but the Department of Justice said he did not face arrest.
Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, on Thursday told Reuters that the U.S. military had been ready to fly the family out of the country after they were freed but said Boyle, who is Canadian, had refused to board the aircraft.
Through the years, videos and letters trickled out from their captors: Coleman and Boyle begging for freedom and for "money, power and friends" for the Haqqani network holding them prisoner. "We are prepared to bring them back home", the official said.
It added: "They were captured by terrorists from Afghanistan during 2012 and kept as hostages there".
Mattis, who last week said the United States would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan, was upbeat on Thursday. After the release of the family, they emphasized the importance of co-operation and intelligence sharing by Washington, which has threatened to cut military aid and other punitive measures against Pakistan.
They would appear sporadically in videos from the Haqqani network over the years, saying their captors had threatened to kill them if the Afghan government would not stop executing Taliban prisoners.
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