Pakistani soldiers have freed a North American family of five who were being held hostage by the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan’s military says.
They were rescued after a US tip-off during an operation near the Afghan border, the army said.
The army did not name the family, but Canadian Joshua Boyle and his US wife Caitlan Coleman were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012.
They are known to have had children while in captivity.
“Pak Army recovered five Western hostages including one Canadian, his US national wife and their three children from terrorist custody,” an army statement said.
It added that US intelligence agencies had been tracking the family in Afghanistan, and reported that on 11 October they had moved across the border into the Kurram tribal district of Pakistan.
“We welcome media reports that a family including US citizens has been released from captivity,” a US embassy spokesman in Islamabad told the AFP news agency.
‘Fighting this menace’
Videos of the couple have been released by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network during their captivity. The insurgent group has been demanding the release of three of its prisoners in Afghanistan.
The latest video, released last December, showed the couple with two young boys. In it, Ms Coleman – who was pregnant when she and Mr Boyle were abducted – begged for an end to what she called their “Kafkaesque nightmare”.
The US has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to counter Islamist militants who operate across its porous border with Afghanistan, and relations between Washington and Islamabad are currently at a low ebb.
But Pakistan said the successful operation showed the strength of its alliance with the US.
“The success underscores the importance of timely intelligence sharing and Pakistan’s continued commitment towards fighting this menace through co-operation between two forces against a common enemy,” the army statement said.