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Europe

Ransom paid for British boy taken in Pakistan; arrests made

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-18

Spanish police have arrested several people in connection with the kidnapping of a five-year-old British boy in Pakistan who was freed this week on Tuesday after a ransom for the boy was paid in Paris.

AFP - A ransom for a five-year-old British boy kidnapped during a family holiday in Pakistan and freed this week was paid in Paris, Spanish police said Wednesday, as five people were detained.
   
A Pakistani man and a Romanian woman who travelled to the French capital to collect a ransom of 110,000 pounds (121,000 euros) from the boy's uncle were arrested Tuesday in the town of Constanti in northeastern Spain, they said.
   
Another Pakistani man was also arrested in Constanti while French police detained two family members of the man who went to Paris for being accomplices. They had put up the couple at their apartment in the French capital.
   
The authorities made the arrests once they were informed that Sahil Saeed had been released in Pakistan and was safe, the head of Spanish police's economic and violent crime unit, commander Serafin Castro.
   
"For obvious reasons we could not proceed before but the suspects were being monitored the entire time," he told a news conference in Madrid.
   
The couple arrested in Spain ordered the boy's uncle by mobile telephone to come to France from Britain and lay a backpack containing the ransom money on a sidewalk in the centre of Paris and then promptly picked it up, he said.
   
They then drove to their flat in Constanti, which has a large Pakistani population, where the third suspect arrested in Spain helped them remove the ransom money from their car.
   
Police found nearly 104,000 pounds and over 3,000 euros in the flat as well as several mobile telephones, including one which was used to make calls to the boy's uncle in Paris, and a new computer.
   
The couple who travelled to Paris to collect the ransom money had been charged with murder and were on provisional release while they awaited their trial at the time of their arrest.
   
They had "knowledge of certain police practices" because they had worked for Spanish police before being arrested for murder, said Castro without providing further details.
   
Police in Pakistan said the kidnappers had dropped off Saeed in a field on Tuesday, allowing officers to recover him, but no arrests were made.
   
He 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 father to fly back to Britain.
   
Castro said four men armed with grenades and Kalashnikov assault rifles stormed the house and tied up all the family members as well as the driver of a taxi which had just arrived to make the trip to the airport before leaving with the boy.
   
They beat up Saeed's father and threw a two-year-old boy in the house at the time against a wall during their assualt, he added.
   
The four men also stole jewels, cash, mobile phones and other valuables from the house before leaving in the taxi which they later abandoned.
   
"It was very violent and very strange," said Castro.
   
Saeed's mother Akila Naqqash said Tuesday that she had spoken to her son by telephone from her home in Oldham, near Manchester, after his release and he could expect a "big party" when he arrives back from Pakistan although she vowed never to return to the country.
   
"I need to see him with my own eyes to believe it. When he comes back I am going to give him a big kiss and cuddles and keep him happy," she told the Manchester Evening News city newspaper.
   
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.
  

Date created : 2010-03-17

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