Wed, 26 Sep 2018

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's military has rescued a U.S.-Canadian family from a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, nearly five years after they were abducted by the Afghan Taliban

U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle went missing in Afghanistan in 2012 and the Taliban later claimed responsibility for kidnapping them. The group, which released two videos of the hostages while they were in captivity, had been demanding the release of their prisoners in exchange for Boyle and his wife. She gave birth to the couple's three children while in captivity.

A Pakistani military statement said that based on 'actionable intelligence from U.S.,' the rescue operation was successfully conduced in the Kurram tribal region near the Afghan border on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump praised the release of the hostages and called the development a 'positive moment' in U.S.-Pakistan relations. 'The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,' he said in a statement. 'We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations.'

Pakistan's military said U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking the captives and 'shared their shifting across to Pakistan on 11 October 2017 through Kurram Agency border.' The hostages were "safe and sound" and sent back to their country of origin, it added.

Coleman, 31, and Boyle, 33, in their last video message released in December 2016, urged then-President-elect Donald Trump to negotiate with the Taliban to secure their release in return for Taliban prisoners.

Word of the couple's release came as Lisa Curtis, National Security Council Senior Director for South and Central Asia, visited Islamabad as the head of a high-level U.S. delegation and held talks with Pakistani officials at the Foreign Ministry.

An official statement issued at the end of the visit Thursday said the two sides reviewed the state of their bilateral relationship in the wake of the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia and agreed to continue discussions on all matters of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, an American, Kevin King, 60, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 48, are being held hostage in Afghanistan. The two teachers, with the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

In a video the Taliban released in June, the hostages begged President Trump to negotiate their freedom with the Islamist insurgent group.

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