ISLAMABAD — An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children have been freed from captivity by Pakistani security forces nearly five years after being taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The initial word came from a Pakistani Army statement and was confirmed by U.S. officials.
The couple, American Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her husband, Joshua Boyle, 33, were kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012 while they were traveling as tourists in Afghanistan and were held in captivity since.
Coleman was pregnant when she was kidnapped. The couple had two more children born in captivity.
In a statement, the Pakistani Army said U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and shared intelligence with Pakistan when the family was moved to the country.
U.S. officials confirmed there was intelligence about their location in recent days that was shared with the Pakistanis.
In the initial hours after their release, the family was still in Pakistan as arrangements were being made to return them to either the U.S. or Canada.
“The operation by Pakistani forces, based on actionable intelligence from U.S. authorities was successful; all hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin,” the statement said.
“The success underscores the importance of timely intelligence sharing and Pakistan’s continued commitment towards fighting this menace through cooperation between two forces against a common enemy.”
It is possible the successful recovery of the family was what was being referenced Wednesday when President Donald Trump told a crowd in Pennsylvania that “something happened today where a country that totally disrespected us called with some very, very important news.”
Trump did not disclose what country or any details involved but said “one of my generals came in and they said, you know, I have to tell you, a year ago they would have never done that.”
“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,” Trump said appearing to reference Pakistan and that country’s role in bringing about the the recovery of the four hostages.
U.S. intelligence officials believed the couple were being held by the Haqqani Network, a branch of the Taliban believed to be responsible for some of the group’s most violent and sophisticated attacks.
In December, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said the Haqqani Network held a total of five American hostages.
The Taliban released a “proof of life” video of Coleman, Boyle and their two children in December where Coleman addressed President Barack Obama and then President-elect Trump, saying the Taliban “are not going to simply release our family easily, because it is correct. They want money, power and friends. … We are told there are Afghans who are prisoners in Kabul that these men care about.”
The Afghan government has captured several senior members of the Haqqani Network and U.S. officials believed the Taliban faction had hoped to exchange American hostages for their release.