A kidnapped US-Canadian couple and their three children born in captivity have been freed in Pakistan, nearly five years after the couple was 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.
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.
“The Pakistani government’s co-operation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Thursday.
The Pakistani army and US government statements offered no details about the operation itself.
US intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and on Wednesday shared that the family had been moved to Pakistan through Kurram tribal area border, the army said.
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.
Ms 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.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland asked for respect for the family’s privacy and thanked the governments of the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan for their efforts to win the hostages’ release.
“Joshua, Caitlan, their children and the Boyle and Coleman families have endured a horrible ordeal over the past five years. We stand ready to support them as they begin their healing journey,” Ms Freeland said.