US-Canadian family were held in Pakistan: CIA chief

Freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle talks on the phone outside the Boyle family home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, on October 14, 2017. (AFP / Mike Carroccetto)
Updated 20 October 2017
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US-Canadian family were held in Pakistan: CIA chief

WASHINGTON: A North American family who were kidnapped by a Taliban faction in Afghanistan were held for five years in Pakistan before their release last week, CIA director Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
The account is at odds with the Pakistani military’s version of events, which said it rescued the couple and their three children born in custody after a tip-off that the family had been moved into Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas from across the border in Afghanistan, where they were captured in 2012.
“We had a great outcome last week, when we were able to get back four US citizens, who had been held for five years inside of Pakistan,” Pompeo told a Washington policy forum.
The amount of time US citizen Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle spent on either side of the lawless Afghan-Pakistan border is significant for US authorities.
Washington suspects Pakistan of collusion with the Haqqani group, a hard-line Taliban faction that targets the US-backed government in Kabul and is thought to have held the hostages.
Pakistani officials secured the family’s release last week, just ahead of a key visit next week by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during which he is expected to pressure Islamabad.
Some US and Canadian officials have cast doubt on whether the family was rescued, hinting in North American media that the recovery was more of a “negotiated handover.”
“I think history would indicate that expectations for the Pakistanis willingness to help us in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism should be set at a very low level. Our intelligence would indicate the same,” Pompeo said.
“I think we should have a very real conversation with them about what it is they’re doing and what it is they should do and the American expectations for how they should behave,” he said.
US President Donald Trump wants to convince Afghan Taliban rebels that they have no hope of military victory and should try to negotiate a peace deal with Kabul.
But, Pompeo said, there is no chance the Taliban will do this if their fighters continue to enjoy the benefits of a safe haven on the Pakistan side of the border.


Spanish police find no weapons in knife attacker’s home

Special police forces prepare to raid the apartment building of a man who attacked a police station in Cornella near Barcelona on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 39 min 42 sec ago
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Spanish police find no weapons in knife attacker’s home

MADRID: Police have not found any guns or explosives in the house of a man who allegedly attacked police officers with a knife in Barcelona before being shot dead, a senior official in Spain’s Catalonia region said Tuesday.
Authorities are investigating whether the suspect in Monday’s attack at the police station on the outskirts of Barcelona had links to terror groups, Catalan Interior Minister Miquel Buch said.
He told Catalan public radio that “as things stand” terrorism can’t be ruled out as a motive for the attack. Officials have not identified the dead suspect.
The investigation by police and intelligence services could last weeks, and the motive may not emerge until it’s concluded, Buch said in Catalan, according to Spanish news agency Europa Press.
Police were analyzing evidence collected during the house search.
Catalan police chief Andreu Joan Martinez said Tuesday the policewoman who shot the alleged attacker acted in a “proportionate, adequate” way, considering the “extremely serious situation” she faced.
The policewoman was the first person the attacker approached with a knife after gaining entry to the police station before dawn.
Martinez praised the policewoman and the sergeant near her for their quick response to the threat.
“That explains why today we’re not speaking about greater loss of life,” Martinez told a news conference in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Catalan police force’s largest labor group, Valentin Anadon, said in an interview with Europa Press that the policewoman told the attacker “about 10 times” to put down his knife before she opened fire.
Police haven’t released any video footage from inside the police station during the attack.