US-Canadian family were held in Pakistan for five years, CIA chief claims

WASHINGTON: A North American family who was kidnapped by a Taliban faction in Afghanistan were held for five years in Pakistan before their release last week, CIA director Mike Pompeo said Thursday.

The account is at odds with the Pakistani military’s version of events, which said it rescued the couple and their three children born in custody after a tip-off that the family had been moved into Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas from across the border in Afghanistan, where they were captured in 2012.

“We had a great outcome last week, when we were able to get back four US citizens, who had been held for five years inside of Pakistan,” Pompeo told a Washington policy forum.

The amount of time US citizen Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle spent on either side of the lawless Afghan-Pakistan border is significant for US authorities.

Washington suspects Pakistan of collusion with the Haqqani group, a hard-line Taliban faction that targets the US-backed government in Kabul and is thought to have held the hostages.

Pakistani officials secured the family’s release last week, just ahead of a key visit next week by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during which he is expected to pressure Islamabad.

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