After Being Held Captive For 5 Years By Militant Group, A U.S.-Canadian Family Is Finally Free

The release could mark a positive turn in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

An American-Canadian family that was held hostage by Islamic militants in Pakistan for half a decade is now free.

American Caitlan Coleman and her husband, Joshua Boyle, who is Canadian, were taken captive in 2012 while traveling in a mountainous region of Afghanistan not far from Kabul, BuzzFeed News notes. The duo were kept by the Haqqani network, an Afghan guerrilla insurgent group with ties to the Taliban.

At the time the pair was captured, Coleman was pregnant. She gave birth to the couple's three children while they were held, and U.S. officials confirm the children were freed along with their parents on October 11 while being moved to Pakistan.

"Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan," President Donald Trump said in a statement. "Today they are free."

The Pakistani military released their own statement, according to HuffPost, explaining, "All hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin."

Since Pakistan played a significant role in securing the family's release, experts are saying this could signify a change in the country's often tenuous relationship with the United States. Trump called the release "a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan," and the Pakistani army stressed the importance of "timely intelligence sharing" while also reiterating their country's "continued commitment towards fighting this menace through cooperation between two forces against a common enemy."

CNN reports Pakistan-U.S. relations have been strained in the past in part because Pakistan is suspected of harboring various terrorist groups, such as the Haqqani network.

President Trump spoke about getting tougher with Pakistan back in August when he announced his strategy for Afghanistan and the wider region. "We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond," he said at the time.

Though there is still much to be done to improve the relationship between the two countries, the current administration remains optimistic. "The United States is hopeful that Pakistan's actions will further a U.S.-Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

According to CNN, the Coleman-Boyle family remained in Pakistan in the initial hours following their release while arrangements were being made to return them to either the United States or Canada.


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