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British boy kidnapped in Jhelum

05 March, 2010

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ISLAMABAD: Robbers kidnapped a five-year-old British boy on Thursday demanding a 150,000-dollar ransom, prompting his mother to make a tearful plea for the return of her “sweet little boy”.

Sahil Saeed was snatched in Jhelum at the end of a three-week family holiday visiting his grandmother with his father, officials said. The father and son were preparing to get a taxi to the airport to fly home to Oldham in northwest England when the robbers stormed into the house, held the family at gunpoint and stole cash and jewellery, officials said.

“When the taxi came to pick them up for the airport, four to five people barged into their house, looted cash and jewellery and also took their child with them,” regional police chief Aslam Tarin told Geo TV channel.

Police blamed a kidnapping gang for the abduction and said they had launched a full-scale investigation to recover the child. The attackers probably knew the family and were aware of their imminent departure before dawn on Thursday, Tarin said.

“We are interrogating the taxi driver and hopefully the culprits will be traced in the next 24 to 48 hours... Our top priority is to recover the child without any harm,” he said. Overcome with anguish, Sahil’s mother Akila Naqqash broke down when she heard about her son’s abduction.

“All I want is my son back safe, what has he done?” she told Sky News television, sobbing: “He’s only a little five-year-old boy, what has he done? Just bring him back, please.” Naqqash said he was “just a sweet little boy” but she did not know how to help him, adding: “All I can do is just pray.”

Sahil’s father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, told Sky News the kidnappers had given a deadline to pay a ransom for the boy of 100,000 pounds (150,000 dollars) — but he said he could not pay.

“They took me into the separate room and they tortured me. They said ‘we will take your son and you will have to pay 100,000 pounds’,” he said from Pakistan. “I told them I don’t have that much money... I can’t afford that.”

“They took my son. They were fully loaded with guns and hand grenades,” he said, adding that his family was beaten, slapped and kicked by the robbers during a six-hour ordeal.Phil Woolas, member of parliament for Oldham and a government minister, warned Britain might have to review its travel advice.

“This is not an area of Pakistan which has been caught up in the war. That is worrying. Clearly when this is all over — hopefully pray God safety — that we will have to review the travel advice,” he told Sky.

“But there’s no reason to think that this is a pattern,” he added.Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Office says a man has been arrested in Pakistan in connection with the kidnapping of a five-year-old British boy there.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said police in Pakistan made the arrest on Thursday and are detaining the man for questioning.She says the British consular staff are in close contact with the investigating officer. She did not provide other details.


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