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Tuesday 28 March 2017

Celebrations as tired kidnap boy (5) is safely home at last

Jonathan Brown in London

FIVE-year-old Sahil Saeed was tired after the long flight and shorn of his hair by his captors, but for his family and friends the most important thing was that he was safely back home.

A huge media presence was on hand to capture the moment his plane touched down at Manchester Airport shortly before 7pm. From there, he was whisked away in a car to be reunited with his mother, Akila Naqqash.

Police were on guard outside the family's terraced home in Oldham, greater Manchester, where television crews have been nearly permanently stationed since the young boy was snatched at gunpoint in Pakistan two weeks ago.

Relatives said yesterday that psychologists had advised welcome celebrations to be as sensitive as possible to help the boy readjust to his normal life. Extended family members started gathering at the house from late afternoon. Signs were put up welcoming him home, while neighbours delivered their good wishes to the family.

Mushtak Raja, Sahil's great uncle, said everyone was excited at his return. "It is important we keep things low-profile. That little boy doesn't know what has gone on and we have to make sure he avoids the news. He was very happy seeing his father and enjoyed playing football with him this morning," he said.

Susan Winn, a neighbour, said everyone in the street was delighted. "Akila is over the moon; we all are."

Sahil, his father and uncle travelled business class on the Pakistan International Airlines flight from Islamabad. In a statement Mr Saeed paid tribute to the international operation to rescue his son and said the family were now looking forward to getting on with their lives.

Irish Independent

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