Children of freed Canadian hostages are 'improving' but 'still incredibly troubled and stressed', father reveals
Young brothers who were held hostage by the Talbian in Afghanistan are "improving" as they adjust to life in Canada, their father has said.
Canadian man Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their three young children returned to Toronto on Friday after they were kidnapped by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network five years ago, when they were backpacking through Afghanistan.
Pakistani troops rescued the family in the northwest of the country, near the Afghan border, this week. The United States has long accused Pakistan of failing to fight the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.
Joshua claimed that the captors killed his infant daughter and raped his wife during their ordeal.
They are staying with Joshua's family in Ontario, and while he says their younger son Dhakwoen Noah is still "incredibly troubled and stressed over everything", he revealed he has bonded with his grandmother.
Joshua said: "She's the first person he's accepted since 2015.
"Needless to say, thousands of times seeing the guards on a daily basis did not endear him to even one of them."
He also said that the children - who were born in captivity - are slowly adjusting to their new life.
He said: "These are children who three days ago they did not know what a toilet looks like. They used a bucket."Three days ago they did not know what a light is or what a door is except that it is a metal thing that is locked in their face to make them a prisoner.
"And now they are seeing houses, they are seeing food, they are seeing gifts, all of this. They are doing very well."
Joshua said they he was overwhelmed by an "amazing feeling of pride" when they were finally reunited with their relatives on
He said he was overcome by an “amazing feeling of pride” when he first saw his son’s family at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Friday night.
“It’s bringing a whole family home,” he said. “Half of them you know well and half of them you’ve never laid eyes on before.”
“The next best thing is the rest of the day, I got to sit there and watch as almost everybody who’s really important in my life at the same time received the one thing they’ve wanted most for the last five years.”
Canada has been actively engaged with Boyle's case at all levels and would continue to support the family, the Canadian government said in a statement.
"At this time, we ask that the privacy of Mr Boyle’s family be respected," it said.
The journey home was complicated by Boyle's refusal to board a U.S. military aircraft in Pakistan, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Boyle instead asked to be flown to Canada.
But Boyle said he never refused to board any mode of transportation that would bring him closer to home.
Boyle had once been married to the sister of an inmate at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The marriage ended and the inmate was later released to Canada.
The families of the captives have been asked repeatedly why Boyle and Coleman had been backpacking in such a dangerous region. Coleman was pregnant at the time.
Boyle told the news conference he had been in Afghanistan helping "villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker, and no government" had been able to reach.
The Taliban and Haqqani network share the same goals of forcing out foreign troops and ousting the U.S.-backed government in Kabul but they are distinct organizations with separate command structures.