An American woman and her Canadian husband who were kidnapped by a Taliban-affiliated group in Afghanistan five years ago have been freed along with their three children, U.S. and Pakistani authorities said Thursday.

The Pakistani army said its soldiers recovered the family in an operation based on U.S. intelligence.

Caitlan Coleman and her husband Joshua Boyle were abducted in 2012 while traveling in Afghanistan and were held captive by the Haqqani network. 

Coleman, 32, from  Stewartstown, Pa., was seven months pregnant when she was captured after traveling to Afghanistan via Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.  The couple had three children while in captivity.

The Toronto Star reported there was a shootout and Boyle said the last words he heard from the kidnappers were, “kill the hostages,” according to the Associated Press. The paper reports all five kidnappers were then shot dead and Boyle was injured with shrapnel.

News crews flocked to Coleman's parents' home just outside Stewartstown awaiting word from Jim and Lyn Coleman on the release of their daughter and her family. The couple has quietly worked for the family's release the last five years.

On Thursday, a statement on the door of the Coleman family read: "The Coleman family appreciates all the interest and concern being expressed at the joyful news that Caity, Josh and our grandchildren have been released after five long years of captivity. At this time, we ask that everyone respect our privacy as we make plans for the future."

The U.S. had previously criticized Pakistan for failing to deal with the Haqqani network. 

President Trump said in a statement Thursday: "Yesterday, the United States government, working in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan, secured the release of the Boyle-Coleman family from captivity in Pakistan.

"Today they are free. This is a positive moment for our country's relationship with Pakistan."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed the U.S.'s "deep gratitude" to Pakistan's government and army.

The couple appeared in two videos in 2013 where they asked the U.S. government to free them. In a Dec. 2016 video, they urged the U.S. and Canada to help secure their release.

More: Who is Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle, the family kidnapped for 5 years in Afghanistan?

“They were captured by terrorists from Afghanistan during 2012 and kept as hostages there. U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking them and shared their shifting across to Pakistan on 11 Oct 2017 through Kurram Agency border,” a statement by the Pakistani army said.

It added that “all hostages were recovered safe and sound and are being repatriated to the country of their origin. “

A U.S. national security official said the family members were taken to "a safe but undisclosed location in Pakistan," and Boyle did not want to board a U.S. transport plane, the AP reported. 

Coleman’s parents  told the Circa News service last summer that they received a letter from their daughter in November 2015, and she wrote she had a second child in captivity. “I pray to hear from you again, to hear how everybody is doing,” their daughter said.

“As a man, father and now grandfather, I am asking you to show mercy and release my daughter, her husband, and our beautiful grandchildren,” Jim Coleman told Circa News. “Please grant them an opportunity to continue their lives with us, and bring peace to their families.”

Trump called on Pakistan to do more to tackle militant groups on its soil in a speech in August announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said at the time.

In his statement Thursday, Trump said: "The Pakistani government's cooperation is a sign that it is honoring America's wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.

"We hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages and in our future joint counterterrorism operations."

Sarah Flood, a childhood friend of Coleman, learned the news via a text message from her father Thursday morning. She had anticipated this day, but hours later, the thought of Coleman coming home hadn't sunk in. 

"It's one of those things you keep telling yourself will happen," said Flood, 31, when reached by phone at her home in Maine on Thursday, "because you need to. You can't give up hope." 

She hadn't heard from Coleman's parents, but she did say, "I'm sure it's an incredibly emotional day for them.

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