Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Pakistani police 'close in' on UK boy's kidnappers

Pakistan's interior minister and Sahil Saeed's father are hopeful of his return

Police in Pakistan are closing in on the kidnappers of a five-year-old British boy, the Pakistani Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has said.

Sahil Saeed, from Oldham, was snatched by armed robbers on Wednesday while visiting relatives with his father.

Four police officers in Pakistan have also been suspended over the way the kidnap was handled.

The police did not initially respond to the family's emergency call to Rescue 15, the Pakistani equivalent of 999.

Mr Malik claimed Sahil had been taken by someone "very close to the family".

'We are near to you'

He told the BBC: "There's somebody who was very close to the family, because [of] the way the situation has happened, the way the abduction has happened, the way the entry has been made, the way the conduct was done during that whole operation.

"So we have certain leads which I would not like to discuss but a warning to those abductors - leave the boy because we are very near to you."

Mr Malik visited Sahil's father Raja Saeed on Sunday and told him they were closing in on the culprits.

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

Mr Malik said the kidnap was "humiliating" for Pakistan, and the captors would be made an "example of".

Sahil was taken from his grandmother's home in the Punjab city of Jhelum as he prepared to take a taxi to the airport for his return flight to the UK.

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

Pakistani community groups in Oldham say they are considering setting up a fund to pay ransoms in the event of kidnaps.

The UK government has a policy of not paying ransoms and advises third parties against doing so, arguing that this would encourage future kidnappings.

On Saturday, Sahil's mother Akila Naqqas pleaded for his safe return, saying she would forgive his son's captors if they released him.

She also said Sahil had never been apart from either herself or her husband.

"It's just a nightmare. I'm not sleeping at all," she said.

"It's worse at night when I have no-one to comfort me.

"All we can do is just pray for him."

It is understood several men, including a taxi driver, have been arrested in Pakistan.

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