Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

British boy kidnapped in Pakistan for 100,000 ransom

Sahil Saeed
Sahil Saeed was abducted after robbers held his family

A five-year-old British boy has been kidnapped by armed robbers in Pakistan, local police have said.

Sahil Saeed, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was abducted in Jhelum, where his family were on holiday.

Robbers broke into where they were staying, in Punjab province, on Wednesday night and have demanded a ransom of about £100,000.

The British High Commission is in touch with his family and local police are said to have arrested a taxi driver.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said the chief of police had told him of the arrest and hoped the man could provide clues as to Sahil's whereabouts.

The family had been due to fly back to Britain on Thursday following a two-week visit.

The boy's father, Raja Naqqah Saeed, had been visiting his mother in Pakistan with Sahil.

They were about to leave for the airport to return to the UK at 2300 local time (1800 GMT) on Wednesday when four men - armed with guns and a grenade - approached the house.

Mother of kidnapped boy says she is afraid

Up to 10 family members inside the house were beaten by the intruders in a six-hour ordeal during the night.

The robbers eventually fled with the boy, demanding a ransom equivalent to £100,000. They also took household items, believed to be jewellery and money.

The intruders said they would be back in touch at 0700 GMT, although the boy's father said he had not heard from them.

Mr Saeed, who has been based in the UK for about seven years, told BBC News that his son, who only speaks English, was a child who "loves everyone".

"I don't have any money at all. They can take me if they want - just let my son come back," he said. "I am nothing without him."

Raja Saeed, Sahil's father: "I want to give my son back to my wife"

And, speaking at the family's home in Oldham, the child's mother, Akila Naqqash, said there was no chance her family would be able to pay the ransom.

Fearing for the safety of her "bubbly" child, the boy's mother said she had no idea why her son had been targeted.

She said: "Sahil is a really quiet child - he's no harm to nobody. Why would they want to take my son? What have we done? We've done nothing wrong. This is a normal holiday. Every family takes a holiday.

"How is he coping with strangers? Four grown men. I don't know what they are doing to him. I just want him back."

Jane Sheridan, head teacher of Rushcroft Primary School, which Sahil attends, said everyone was "deeply concerned" about his welfare and they were doing all they could to support his family.

Jhelum itself is not a particularly dangerous place, it's not a tribal area - it's a relatively safe part of Pakistan
Aleem Maqbool, BBC News

Mr Hasan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, described the kidnapping as a "condemnable act" that has caused the Pakistan government concern.

He said the chief of police had told him earlier "no stone would be left unturned" in the search for Sahil and the culprits.

George Sherriff, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad, said they were "continually monitoring the situation".

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool says Punjab police are taking this very seriously and a large team is working on the case.

He says the chief of police is now involved and officers think the kidnapping is unlikely to be the result of a family feud or a personal grudge.

Our correspondent says there are isolated incidents of kidnapping in Pakistan by criminal gangs who want to make money, occasionally linked to militant groups.

However, he says there is nothing to suggest this is the case in this kidnapping.

Our correspondent says Jhelum is not in a tribal area and is a relatively safe part of Pakistan, where many British Pakistanis are from.

He says police are confident they will bring the case to a successful conclusion.

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Times Online Pakistani police 'close' to finding kidnapped boy Sahil Saeed - 29 mins ago
Telegraph Boy's kidnap an 'inside job' - 3 hrs ago
The Independent British boy's kidnap could be 'sort of inside job' - 5 hrs ago
The Scotsman Pakistan kidnap 'may be inside job' - 5 hrs ago British Boy Snatched In Pakistan - 26 hrs ago

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