x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

British boy kidnapped in Pakistan freed

A British boy who was kidnapped in Pakistan while on holiday has been released, an official and a relative said, ending a 12-day ordeal.

ISLAMABAD // A British boy who was kidnapped in Pakistan while on holiday has been released, an official and a relative said today, ending a 12-day ordeal. "We are very happy. Thank God he is safe and sound." said Raja Basharat, the grand-uncle of five-year-old Sahil Saeed. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who is also responsible for security in the province where the boy was abducted, told Reuters an "international gang of kidnappers" was responsible.

"We are trying to bust this gang with the help of other countries," he said, without elaborating. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said he suspected some relatives were involved in the abduction, which made big news in the British media. He said today the boy, who is from the English town of Oldham, would be handed over to family members or responsible people in Pakistan because his father was not in the country.

Police in Jhelum, the town where the kidnapping took place, had said gunmen held members of the family at gunpoint for several hours and took away 150,000 rupees (Dh6,543) and some gold during the kidnapping and later demanded a 10 million rupee (Dh436,223) ransom. Kidnapping is a major problem in Pakistan and many of the crimes go unreported. The circumstances around the boy's release were not immediately clear.

"It is fantastic news which brings an end to the traumatic ordeal faced by Sahil and his family," the British High Commissioner in Islamabad, Adam Thomson, said in a statement. "I would like to praise the high-level of co-operation between UK and Pakistani authorities and in particular, I would like to thank the Jhelum police for their role in bringing about the safe return of Sahil." Police have said Taliban militants use ransom from kidnappings to fund their insurgency against the US-backed government. But there were no signs that the latest kidnapping was linked to militants.

* Reuters