Terrorist group releases North American hostages in Pakistan

World Today

In this image from video released by Taliban Media in December 2016, Caitlan Coleman talks in the video while her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle holds their two children. U.S. officials said Pakistan secured the release of Coleman of Stewartstown, Pa., and her husband, who were abducted five years ago while traveling in Afghanistan and then were held by the Haqqani network. Coleman was pregnant when she was captured. The couple had three children while in captivity, and all have been freed, U.S. officials said. (Taliban Media via AP)

The U.S. said an American woman, her Canadian husband, and their three kids – taken hostage five years ago in Afghanistan — have now been released in Pakistan. The couple was taken hostage while travelling through Afghanistan’s restive tribal regions.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

In a proof-of-life video released last year by senior Taliban officials, Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were pictured with two of their three children, all born in captivity. Coleman was pregnant when the couple was captured.

Another video of the couple had been released just a few months earlier. In it, they ask Canada and the U.S. to change their policies on Afghanistan, and to pressure Kabul to stop executing Taliban fighters.

The family was being held by the much-feared Haqqani network, labelled a terrorist organization by the United States. A group affiliated with the Taliban, Haqqani often operates as a criminal network, preferring ransoms over executions.

Pakistan officials said the U.S. had been tracking the family in Afghanistan, and notified Pakistani intelligence when they crossed the border from Afghanistan in recent days.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the Pakistani operation that secured the family’s release showed Islamabad was once again respecting Washington.

“The Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America’s wish that it do more to provide security in the region,” Trump said. “And I want to thank the Pakistani government. I want to thank Pakistan.”

In a strategy speech in August focusing on Afghanistan, Trump effectively put Islamabad on notice, saying it had failed to crack down on terrorist elements within its own borders. The U.S. believes such elements in Pakistan were helping destabilize American gains in Afghanistan.