Saturday 22 July 2017

Kidnapped boy found after hefty ransom is paid out

Sahil Saeed: found in a field
Sahil Saeed: found in a field

Dean Nelson in Delhi

A British boy kidnapped for two weeks in Pakistan was freed yesterday as police began enquiring into his father's financial background.

Pakistani officers believe that a large ransom may have been paid for the release of five-year-old Sahil Saeed to settle a long-standing debt.

Sources close to the inquiry have said Sahil's abduction may have been more complicated than a straightforward kidnapping.

The boy, who was taken by armed robbers during a visit to his grandmother's house in Pakistan's Punjab province, a fortnight ago, was found abandoned in a field in Gujrat.

Overjoyed

Sahil's mother, Akila Naqqash (31) spoke of her joy at his release. "I'm overjoyed," she said. "I have spoken to my little boy this morning. I was worried about the way he was going to speak, but the first thing he said was, 'Mummy, mummy, I've got some new toys'.

"He was talking as normal. He hasn't mentioned anything about what happened. When he comes back I am going to give him a big kiss and cuddles and keep him happy."

Sahil's father, Raja Naqqash Saeed (28), returned to Britain last week while his son was still being held, shortly after making an emotional appeal for his release and pleading with the kidnappers that he could not afford their ransom demands.

But Rana Sanaullah, the Punjab province's law minister, claimed yesterday that Mr Saeed may have returned to Britain to negotiate with the kidnappers.

He said that the boy was released after a ransom believed to be around £80,000 (€89,000) was paid. "An international gang was involved in it, and it was demanding the ransom outside Pakistan in a European country," he said.

UK police said their inquiry was focused on Spain, where an estimated 60,000 Pakistanis live in and around Barcelona.

A source close to the investigation said they were looking into whether the kidnapping was connected to debts. "Calls were traced to Spain," he said. "There was an element of settlement of long-standing debts."

Sahil's father was unavailable for comment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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