Just over five years ago, soon after they wed, Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle set off on a journey to areas of the world infrequently travelled by Westerners, a trek their parents say was in keeping with the couple's adventure-seeking spirit.

During a trip that took them to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, Coleman, a homeschooled devout Catholic and Boyle, her Canadian husband, slept in tents and hostels, interacted with villagers and bought local goods from vendors.

They were supposed to return to the US so that Coleman, then pregnant, could deliver her baby. Instead, they were abducted in Afghanistan and held by the Taleban-linked Haqqani network, surfacing periodically over the next five years in video recordings sent to their loved ones and scrubbed by the FBI for clues.

Yesterday, US and Pakistani officials announced the release of the couple and the three children they had in captivity, a welcome development in a strange tale that vexed federal investigators for years and became part of the political debate over the United States Government's obligation to Americans held as hostages overseas.

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As news of the couple's release developed, loved ones of Coleman gathered in the family home of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.

In the summer of 2012, the couple embarked on a journey that took them to Russia and the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. It was a risky venture for any couple travelling without escort, especially since Coleman was pregnant with their first child.

But their parents didn't find it all that surprising.

"They really and truly believed that if people were loved and treated with respect that that would be given back to them in kind," Linda Boyle, Boyle's mother, told the Associated Press in a 2014 interview.

Boyle was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a late senior al-Qaeda financier. Officials earlier said they had discounted any link between that background and Boyle's capture.

Coleman's parents have said they last heard from their son-in-law in October 2012 from an internet cafe in what Boyle described as an "unsafe" part of Afghanistan. The couple were abducted shortly thereafter.

The only trace of the couple since they vanished had been in the form of videos released by their captors and family letters. The AP reported in June 2014 about the existence of videos received by Coleman's father in which the couple implored the US Government to help free them.

Yesterday a typed notice appeared on the front door of the Coleman family home saying the family appreciated the "concern being expressed at the joyful news that Caity, Josh and our grandchildren have been released after five long years of captivity".

The sign asked that their privacy be respected while they "make plans for the future".

- AP