Western Family Held By Taliban Arrives in Canada
An American-Canadian couple and their three children arrived in Canada after five years in Taliban captivity in Afghanistan. The family flew Friday from Pakistan to Canada via Britain.
Acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, Pakistani officials say their troops rescued U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, on Wednesday hours after their captors transported them in a car to the Pakistani side of the long porous Afghan border.
Boyle provided a written statement to The Associated Press Friday saying, "God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination."
The Pakistan military revealed details of the rescue operation on Thursday.
A U.S. plane was standing by at the military airbase in Islamabad, waiting to fly the family to a U.S. military base in Germany for a medical checkup, but Pakistani security sources told VOA Boyle refused to board the flight fearing their “scrutiny”.
Instead, the family boarded Pakistan’s state-run carrier and left for Britain.
Coleman and Boyle went missing while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012. The Afghan Taliban later claimed responsibility for kidnapping them. U.S. officials maintain the couple was in captivity of the Haqqani terrorist organization linked to the Taliban.
The insurgent group, which released two videos of the hostages while they were in captivity, had been demanding the release of their prisoners in exchange for Boyle and his wife. While in captivity, the couple had three children, who were rescued with them.
UN Says Attacks on Schools on the Rise
The United Nations says attacks on schools worldwide are on the rise, with more than 500 attacks in the first six months of the year, many of them in war zones.
Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict, told a U.N. Security Council meeting that 2017 might be a record year for the number of schools bombed and destroyed.
In 2016, Gamba said the United Nations was able to verify 753 attacks on schools and hospitals. But she said the actual number is likely much higher because many places are too dangerous for U.N. staff to enter.
She said a new pattern of attacks has emerged in recent years that have targeted school children, teachers and education facilities. She said this could have happened because schools are seen as a symbol of the state or armed groups are unhappy with the school’s curriculum.