US-Canadian family rescued after five years in Taliban captivity

A kidnapped US-Canadian couple and their three children born in captivity have been freed in Pakistan, nearly five years after the couple were abducted in neighbouring Afghanistan.


American Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, which the US has long accused Pakistan of failing to fight.

The family of five were hesitant to board the US military jet, over fears Boyle could be prosecuted for his previous marriage to Zaynab Khadrm, the sister of a known terror suspect.

But an official said Boyle did not risk any US repercussions.

"It is not in our intention to do anything like that. We are prepared to bring them back home," the official said.

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Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle have been released after five years in captivity. Source: FBI

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The couple pictured with their first two children, who were born in captivity. Source: FBI

Five years after their capture, during which Coleman appeared in a 2016 hostage video, the family is now free according to statements on Thursday by the Pakistani military and the White House.

But little is known of the couple's reasons for heading out to Central Asia in the first place, with seemingly no end game in focus.

"Only God knows exactly where it will lead or what all can be accomplished, seen, experienced or learned while we travel," Caitlan wrote in an email in July 2012.

"So we put ourselves in his hands."

A statement placed on the door of the Coleman family home on Thursday. Source: AP

Their adventures took them to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan, where they befriended locals in the countryside and joined caravans with other travellers. They sent postcards home chronicling their adventures.

But they reportedly did not tell their parents they were going into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army said its forces "recovered" the hostages after acting on US intelligence about their passage into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

A US State Department statement used the word "rescue" to describe efforts by the US and Pakistani governments to secure the hostages' release.

The couple had been married for one year before they set off on a trip that would see them taken captive in Afghanistan. Source: FBI

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.

Thursday's statements from Islamabad and Washington were the first mention of a third child.

US President Donald Trump, who has been highly critical of Islamabad, praised Pakistan's co-operation with the US government over the freeing of the hostages, saying it represented "a positive moment" for US-Pakistan relations.