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Pakistan frees N. American family from Taliban, Trump hails it (Lead)

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Islamabad | Thursday, 2017 10:15:04 PM IST
 
As the Pakistan Army on Thursday rescued a Canadian-American family held hostage by the Taliban after it acted on intelligence shared by the US, the US President applauded the development and said that the release was "a positive moment" for the Washington-Islamabad relationship.

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said the hostages were a Canadian, his American wife, and their three children. The hostages were rescued "through an intelligence-based operation by Pakistani troops and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence)."

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

"US intelligence agencies had been tracking them and shared their shifting across to Pakistan on October 11, 2017, through the Kurram Agency border," the ISPR said.

US President Donald Trump said: "Yesterday the US government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release".

He also praised Pakistan's cooperation, saying it was "a sign that it is honouring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region."

The US President voiced his hope to see more of such US-Pakistan cooperation "in helping secure the release of remaining hostages" and "future joint counterterrorism operations".

The rescued hostages "are being repatriated to their country of origin", the statement added.

Although the identities of the rescued hostages have not yet been revealed or confirmed by the army's media wing, they are believed to be Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman, kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012 while on a backpacking trip, and their three children -- all of whom were born in captivity.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised the release of the North American family and extended "deep gratitude" to the Pakistani government and army in freeing the hostages.

In a statement, the top US diplomat applauded "the innumerable lines of effort" of the US government in this process, saying they "reflect the best of what America can accomplish".

Tillerson also thanked Islamabad for its cooperation, adding US President Donald Trump's "new South Asia strategy recognizes the important role Pakistan needs to play" in securing regional stability and ultimate peace.

Washington "is hopeful that Pakistan's actions will further a US Pakistan relationship marked by growing commitments to counterterrorism operations and stronger ties in all other respects," he said.

Coleman, 31, was pregnant at the time of abduction. A video released by the Taliban last year had showed the family, including two young boys.

"The success (of the operation) underscores the importance of timely intelligence sharing and Pakistan's continued commitment towards fighting this menace (of terrorism) through cooperation between two forces against a common enemy," the army said.

--IANS ahm/bg

( 451 Words)

2017-10-12-21:50:08 (IANS)

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