An American woman, her Canadian husband and their children have left Pakistan after being rescued from the Taliban, who held them for five years, Pakistani officials said Friday.
Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, her husband Joshua Boyle, along with their three children left by plane from Islamabad on Friday, two Pakistani security officials said. But they did not reveal where the family was headed.
The couple have reportedly told US officials and their families they wanted to fly commercially to Canada.
Pakistan said Thursday it rescued the family after their captors moved them across the border from Afghanistan, adding the rescue was made possible by intelligence provided by the US.
The couple was kidnapped in October 2012 while on a backpacking trip that took them to Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and then to Afghanistan. All three children were born in captivity.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump said that Pakistan’s cooperation in securing the release of the couple and their children signaled a new respect for Washington by Islamabad.
“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 at a White House event. “They worked very hard on this and I believe they are starting to respect the United States again.”
Head of the US Central Command General Joseph Votel also said the freeing of the couple and their children was a
positive sign and a recognition of how seriously Islamabad takes the protection of American citizens.
“We are very appreciative for the efforts of the Pakistani military in helping effect the securing of our American hostages that have been held there, and a Canadian citizen, for quite some time,” said Votel.
“It is a positive sign that they (recognized) the importance, they (recognized) the opportunity, they acted quickly and very responsibly to get control of these persons and begin to effect their return,” Votel told reporters.
Boyle’s father called the rescue a “miracle.” Coleman’s parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, meanwhile, posted a statement on the door of their Pennsylvania home expressing joy. Lyn Coleman said “I am in a state of euphoria, stunned and overjoyed,” in an interview with ABC News.
Coleman’s parents last had a conversation with their son-in-law on Oct. 8, 2012, via an email sent from an internet cafe he’d described as being in an “unsafe” part of Afghanistan. From then on, there were only desperate hostage videos released by their captors and hand-scrawled letters mailed home.