Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Pakistan rescues North American family kidnapped from Afghanistan

Taliban Taliban
Sammy Stanley | 13 October, 2017, 14:36

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.

On Thursday, U.S. and Pakistani officials announced the release of the couple and the three children they had in captivity, a welcome development in a unusual tale that vexed federal investigators for years and became part of the political debate over the U.S. government's obligation to Americans held as hostages overseas.

"They were captured by terrorists from Afghanistan in 2012 and kept as hostages there", the ISPR said.

The family's precise whereabouts were unclear as of Thursday midday.

United States intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and on Wednesday shared that the family had been moved across to Pakistan through the Kurram tribal area border, the army said.

The kidnappers managed to escape, the security official added, saying the troops wouldn't fire at the fleeing captors for fear of harming the hostages. The army recovered the hostages safely from the auto.

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 U.S.co-operation included sophisticated surveillance inside Pakistan.

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The U.S. embassy in Pakistan declined to comment on the drone report.

"This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan", President Donald Trump said in a statement. "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".

Pakistani officials bristle at claims Islamabad is not doing enough to tackle Islamist militants.

It was unclear how precisely the Pakistani military secured the family's release, which came after the United States shared intelligence about the hostages' location.

A USA national security official, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said US officials had planned on moving the family out of Pakistan on a USA transport plane, but at the last minute Boyle would not get on, the official said. It was also unclear when the family would return home.

Declining to discuss USA intelligence in detail that was shared with Pakistan, they said the United States had been tracking cars capable of holding six or more people moving from place to place, which analysts had concluded were suggestive of moving hostages.

They will fly on to Canada from London, the source said.

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