Former Taliban hostages back in Canada after harrowing raid

Joshua Boyle, left, gets a police escort after speaking to the media after arriving at the airport in Toronto on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Boyle, his wife Caitlin Coleman, and their three children landed in Canada after they were kidnapped in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip and held hostage for five years by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

SMITHS FALLS, Ontario (AP) – A couple held hostage for five years by a Taliban-linked extremist network in Afghanistan was safely back in Canada on Saturday after what the husband described as a harrowing firefight during a raid to free the family.

Joshua Boyle played with one of his sons in the garden of his parents’ home. The boy appeared happy and healthy, digging in the grass as his father showed off the different plants and later spoke on a cellphone.

In a video released by Pakistan’s military that was filmed before he left that country for home, Boyle said Pakistani security forces positioned themselves between the hostages and their Haqqani network captors to keep the family safe amid the gunfire.

“A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, ‘In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?’” Boyle recalled, appearing beside his wife and children in the video.

“And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost.”

The circumstances under which the video was recorded were not immediately clear.

Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan while on a backpacking trip. Boyle said the kids, who were born in captivity, were adjusting to a new reality after growing up amid a group of “pagan” bandits.

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