Canadian man and family held captive for years in Afghanistan arrive in Toronto

Freed after years in captivity, Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife and their three children have arrived in Toronto Friday night.

Boyle and wife, Caitlan Coleman, were abducted five years ago while travelling in Afghanistan and were being held by the Haqqani network. Coleman was pregnant with their first child when they were captured by a militant group linked to the Taliban. In captivity she gave birth to three children — two boys and a girl.

Boyle provided a written statement to The Associated Press saying, “God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination.”

Global Affairs Canada welcomed the family’s return.

“Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones,” the ministry said in a statement that asked for privacy for the family.

“Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Boyle’s case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that they have returned.”

It’s not clear where the family is heading. Boyle’s parents live in the Ottawa area, and prior to the kidnapping the couple had been living in Perth-Andover, N.B.

Pakistan said Thursday it had rescued the family after the captors moved them across the border from Afghanistan.

Coleman is from Stewartstown, Pa. In an interview with ABC News on Friday, her father, Jim Coleman, said he is angry at Boyle for taking her to Afghanistan.

“Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable,” he said.

Boyle’s parents, who live in Smiths Falls, Ont., said Thursday evening their son and his family intend to come to Canada.

Afghanistan Missing Couple 20171012

Linda and Patrick Boyle said Thursday that they couldn’t be more excited for the family to return to Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Earlier, Patrick Boyle said the family was safe “but exhausted.”

He told reporters his son had been hit by shrapnel during the events leading to their release, which reportedly involved dozens of Pakistani army members. Joshua Boyle suffered a leg injury as a result, his father said.

Boyle’s mother told CBC News the family is still facing “really tough times.” 

“They kept themselves strong for so long, for each other and for the kids,” Linda Boyle said. “I think it’s going to catch up with them, and they’re probably going to have some real crashes, I expect, but we’re here for them.”

Rescue near Afghan-Pakistan border

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has met with Joshua Boyle’s parents in the past, said Thursday that their son and his family had endured an “absolutely horrible ordeal.”

Freeland refused to describe the circumstances of the release, citing security reasons, but said Canada had been working with the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Mexico City, thanked U.S. and Pakistani officials for their efforts in freeing Boyle and his wife and children.

“We’re pleased that the ordeal they’ve been through over these past years has finally come to an end,” Trudeau said Thursday night during a news conference.

Afghanistan Missing Couple

This undated photo provided by the Coleman family shows Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman. (Coleman Family/Associated Press)

A security source told Reuters that the location of the family’s eventual rescue was near the town of Kohat, some 60 kilometres inside Pakistan, along the northwestern border with Afghanistan.

Agents from Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence spy agency and soldiers attempted to intercept the vehicle the family was in, but it sped away, according to the security source.

“Our troops fired at the vehicle and burst its tires,” the senior Pakistani security source told Reuters, declining to be identified because he is not authorized to speak openly to the media.

After the rescue, a change in itinerary was reportedly required, at the behest of Joshua Boyle.

Jim Coleman said Friday he didn’t understand why, according to reports, Boyle didn’t let his family leave on a U.S. military plane. Coleman said if he saw an American aircraft, he’d be “running for it.”

Boyle’s father said his son was philosophically opposed to an initial plan that would have involved the plane landing at Bagram, Afghanistan, where the U.S. has held detainees for years without charge during its battles against the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

The plane instead was routed to Islamabad, Pakistan. They later travelled to England before continuing on to Canada.

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