Tags: UK | Palistan | boy | kidnap

Five-Year-Old UK Hostage Freed in Pakistan

Tuesday, 16 March 2010 09:17 AM

HELUM, Pakistan – A five-year-old British boy kidnapped at gunpoint during a holiday in Pakistan nearly two weeks ago was waiting to be reunited with his mother after being safely recovered on Tuesday.

Sahil Saeed was taken from his grandmother's house in the town of Jhelum, about 100 kilometres (65 miles) south of Islamabad, in the early hours of March 4 while preparing to leave with his Pakistani father to fly back to Britain.

"I am simply delighted that Sahil has been released safe and sound. I know that his family must be overjoyed following almost two weeks of terrible anxiety and uncertainty," said British High Commissioner Adam Thomson.

"The top priority for the High Commission now is to ensure he is reunited with his parents as soon as possible and to help with his return to the UK," he added, saying that although a "little tired", Sahil was "in good spirits".

British officials gave no details on exactly how he had been recovered, saying he was in the care of Pakistani authorities and his uncle, and that the British consul was with him.

British kidnap drop in ocean of Pakistan menace

"There remains an active police investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on ongoing operational issues," Thomson said.

Pakistani police said the kidnappers had dropped off the child in a field on Tuesday, allowing officers to recover him, saying investigations were ongoing but that so far no arrests had been made.

Relatives said they were delighted that Sahil was safe and vigorously denied repeated claims that the kidnapping was an inside job.

Sahil's mother, Akila Naqqash, who had begged for his release, said her son can expect a "big party" when he returns home to Oldham, in northern England, although it was not immediately clear when that would be.

"I talked to him on the phone and I thought, 'that's my little boy', that's enough for me," she told BBC radio.

Released boy can expect "big party"

"The way he spoke to me was normal, like a normal little boy."

She said he had asked about his sisters and remarked how much he was missing his favourite toy.

"I am just waiting for my little boy to come back. No more crying, I just want to have a big party," she added.

Celebrating relatives in Pakistan handed out sweets in Jhelum to friends, neighbours and family members offering their congratulations.

"I am thankful to God that he has been recovered. We are so happy," his grandmother Tasneem Bashir told AFP.

Relatives said Sahil was taken by robbers who stole jewellery and cash and demanded a 120,000-dollar ransom.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik reiterated Tuesday that the family could have been behind the abduction but police said there was no evidence that relatives had been involved.

"Presently, we don't know about the suspects or culprits," Aslam Tareen, regional police chief, told reporters.

"He was released to us. We were informed about the whereabouts and he was left there... in a field in Denga village," he said.

"He is quite well, he is playing, we have arranged some toys for him," said Tareen, adding that he did not know whether a ransom was paid.

Doctors confirmed the boy was fit and well, saying he was under police protection and accompanied by British officials.

Kidnappings of Westerners are rare in Pakistan but abductions of locals are common.

They are often related to family quarrels, love affairs, property disputes or simple quests for money -- particularly for the wealthier victims -- by criminal gangs, some of whom are connected to Islamist militant networks.

Sahil's Pakistani father had said the kidnappers stormed the house armed with guns and grenades, subjecting the family to a six-hour ordeal while he and his son were preparing to take a taxi to the airport and fly home.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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HELUM, Pakistan – A five-year-old British boy kidnapped at gunpoint during a holiday in Pakistan nearly two weeks ago was waiting to be reunited with his mother after being safely recovered on Tuesday.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010 09:17 AM
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