Family held hostage by Taliban flying home to Canada

Family held hostage by Taliban flying home to Canada

Josh Boyle, captured five years ago with his American wife Caitlin Coleman by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network in Afghanistan, was freed Thursday.

They did not say where the family was headed.

A second Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said USA drones had been circling the town of Kohat, on the edge of the tribal areas on Wednesday, suggesting included sophisticated surveillance inside Pakistan.

In a short video message, shortly after the recovery of Boyle's family on Thursday, Linda and Patrick Boyle expressed that they were delighted to hear the news of Boyle's rescue after a joint operation.

"Cait, in her last video said if all five of them make it out, it's going to be a miracle", Boyle said.

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.

Neighbors of Coleman's parents, Jim and Lyn Coleman, say they can't imagine how thrilled the couple must be about the chance they'll get to see their grandchildren for the first time.

Through the years, videos and letters trickled out from their captors: Coleman and Boyle begging for freedom and for "money, power and friends" for the Haqqani network holding them prisoner.

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USA officials expressed hope that the hostages' freedom could represent a turning point in relations between Pakistan and the United States, uneasy allies in fighting Taliban and other Islamist extremists in the region. It unfolded quickly and included what some described as a shootout and a risky raid.

In recent days, senior US officials have been more pointed about Islamabad's alleged ties to militant groups, who are battling against USA and U.S. -backed forces in a stalemated 16-year-old war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

There were reports Thursday that Boyle was refusing to board a plane to the U.S.

A US government source in Washington also said there was no indication the family had been in Afghanistan.

Previously, Boyle was married for a year to Zaynab Khadr, whose father had suspected ties to al-Qaida and whose brother was arrested in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and held in Guantanamo Bay for years.

Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle's capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a "horrible coincidence".

"The last words Boyle said he heard from the kidnappers were, 'kill the hostages, '" the Star reported.

Boyle's mother said he also told her he planned to return.

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