Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

Pakistan police 'confident' of British boy rescue

Sahil Saeed
Sahil Saeed was taken by robbers after a raid on his grandmother's home

Police in Pakistan have said they are confident that a five-year-old British boy kidnapped at gunpoint will be returned to his family.

Sources said officers were questioning two arrested people "very close" to those suspected of taking Sahil Saeed.

Sahil, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, and his father were at a house in the Punjab city of Jhelum on Wednesday when robbers broke in and seized the boy.

The attackers are said to have demanded a £100,000 ransom for Sahil's return.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that one man had been arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

They can take me if they want - just let my son come back. I am nothing without him
Raja Saeed

However, the BBC understands that the two people being questioned are among several to have been arrested.

Islamabad correspondent Aleem Maqbool said police sources had revealed that officers traced the kidnappers through calls made on mobile phones stolen from Sahil's family.

Speaking at the family's home in Oldham, Sahil's mother, Akila Naqqash, said they were getting no information from British officials.

"I want the government to do something because they have not responded to us, anything - what stage they're at, how they're going to help," she said.

The family felt powerless and her son would be scared, she added.

Armed intruders

Pakistani police investigator Raja Tahir Bashir said: "God willing, we will recover the boy very soon," he said, declining to give further details.

"We are doing whatever is possible."

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

Mr Saeed said they were just about to leave for the airport at 2300 local time (1800 GMT) on Wednesday when four men - armed with guns and a grenade - approached the house.

Akila Naqqash, Saihil's mother: "He's just a little boy. What has he done wrong?"

Up to 10 family members inside the house were beaten by the intruders during a six-hour ordeal, he said.

The robbers took items believed to be jewellery and money and fled with the boy. They have demanded a ransom equivalent to £100,000.

They said they would be back in touch, but 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 he was ready to swap places with his only son.

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

'Relatively safe'

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.

This is the number one priority for the Foreign Office in Pakistan
Phil Woolas
Family's MP

Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan described the kidnapping as a "condemnable act" that had caused the Pakistani government concern.

George Sherriff, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad, said it was "continually monitoring the situation" and was in touch with Sahil's family.

Our correspondent said officers thought the kidnapping was unlikely to be the result of a family feud or personal grudge.

He said there were isolated incidents of kidnapping in Pakistan by criminal gangs who wanted to make money, occasionally linked to militant groups.

However, there was nothing to suggest this was the case in this kidnapping, he added.

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

The family's MP, Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, said the family was being supported by the authorities in both the UK and Pakistan.

"This is the number one priority for the Foreign Office in Pakistan. But the focus is still on the police operation."

He added that the government would review its travel advice for this area of Pakistan once the situation was resolved.



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