Freed hostage: My baby daughter was murdered

A man held hostage in Afghanistan with his family for years has said his infant daughter was killed and his wife raped by their captors.

The couple and their children were freed by a Pakistani military operation and returned to Canada on Friday.

Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, and his wife Caitlan Coleman, from Pennsylvania, were kidnapped while on a trip in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2012.

Ms Coleman, 31, was pregnant at the time and gave birth to four children while being held prisoner by the Haqqani network, a group linked to the Taliban.

Their eventual rescue was carried out by Pakistani forces on a tip from US intelligence.

The couple arrived with three children, one of whom had suffered a “medical emergency”, according to Mr Boyle, in the aftermath of what reports said was a gun battle in Pakistan on Wednesday.

Speaking at Toronto Airport, Mr Boyle, 34, said the family’s captors killed their baby daughter and raped his wife.

Image:The family in an image from a video posted on social media by the Taliban last year

He told reporters: “I was in Afghanistan helping the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.

“The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani network’s kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorising the murder of my infant daughter.”

While on their flight from London to Toronto on Friday, Mr Boyle gave a written statement to the Associated Press explaining their motivation.

Image:Wardak is the province to the west of the Afghan capital Kabul

He wrote: “God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organised injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege.”

He told a reporter on the plane that the “(US State Department’s) interests are not my interests”.

Jim Coleman, father of Caitlan, criticised Mr Boyle for taking her to Afghanistan when she was pregnant.

He told ABC News: “Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person that I am, it’s unconscionable.”

Mr Boyle is reported to have told his parents that the operation to free the family involved a shootout and ended with a threat from one of their captors to “kill the hostage”.

The Canadian, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back of their captors’ car.

Video:Aug 2016: Holidaymakers Ambushed By The Taliban

His family said some of his captors were killed and Mr Boyle suffered a shrapnel wound.

Meanwhile, Mr Boyle denied reports he had had refused to board a plane that was preparing to take the family home.

Speaking in Toronto, he said: “I assure you I have never refused to board any mode of transportation that would bring me closer to home, closer to Canada and back with my family.

“Obviously it will be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our three surviving children to call home, to focus on edification and to try to regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost.”

Mr Boyle was previously married to the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr. She was the daughter of a senior al Qaeda financier and friend of Osama bin Laden. They divorced in 2010.

Officials have dismissed any link between his previous marriage and the family’s capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”

The US Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

While the family were being held, the Haqqani network demanded the release of the son of its founder in exchange for turning them over and released several videos in which Mr Boyle pleaded with the Afghan authorities.