Tuesday 21 November 2017

Don't harm my little boy, mum begs kidnappers

£100,000 ransom demand as UK boy and dad taken in Pakistan

Zahid Hussain in Islamabad

THE distraught mother of a five-year-old British boy abducted on a visit to Pakistan, yesterday begged the kidnappers not to harm her son.

Sahil Saeed was taken by raiders armed with guns and grenades who robbed the family home in Jhelum, Punjab, in the early hours on the last day of a short visit to see a sick grandmother. The gang tortured Raja Naqqash Saeed (28) the child's father, for five hours before demanding £100,000 (€110,700) ransom that the family says it has no chance of raising.

The boy's mother, Akila Naqqash (31), was waiting anxiously at the family's terrace home in Oldham, England, for news.

"We have not heard anything from the kidnappers," she said. "All we can do is wait. We have no idea why we were targeted. We do not have any money. There is no way we could raise any -- there is nothing that we can do.

Hysterical

"I would say to the kidnappers, just why have you done this? He is just a little boy, just 5 years old. He was due to come home today (Thursday), please don't hurt him. My husband would swap places if he could. He said, 'Take me, I'll be your hostage'. We just want him back home."

The extended family in England share two neighbouring houses in Oldham. Mr Saeed is understood to be unemployed. His wife works at a nearby Iceland store. Mr Saeed was said to have been in an hysterical state when he telephoned his brother in England early yesterday to tell him of the attack.

Sahil's mother was told of the kidnap as she was serving breakfast to her daughters Anisha (4) and Hafsah (21 months). Her sister-in-law knocked on the front door at 7.45am and broke the news. "I just broke down and thought it cannot be true," Mrs Naqqash said.

Pakistani police sources suggested the raiders struck after the family opened the gates at their house when a taxi arrived to take them to the airport.

Four men forced their way in and ransacked the house, holding the family at gunpoint for some hours. The robbers stole cash and jewellery and grabbed the child as they fled.

The child speaks no Punjabi and may not be able to make himself understood to his captors. The kidnappers backed up their ransom demands with threats of harming the boy.

His father said that he had been waiting by the phone but had not heard from the kidnappers since a deadline for payment of the ransom had passed.

"The kidnappers are going to ring me. I do not know what they are going to say to me. I do not have that much money," he said.

"They took me into a separate room and they tortured me. They said, 'We will take your son and you will have to pay £100,000'."

Shabaz Ahmed, a senior local police officer, said: "The robbers took away 150,000 rupees (€2,400) and some gold. When the family started crying, the robbers also took away the child."

Two people said to be "very close" to the raiders have been arrested, according to police in Pakistan, who said they were confident that Sahil would be found within 24 hours.

Family in Oldham said they had been kept abreast of the latest news but had been advised by the Foreign Office in Britain not to comment on developments. (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent

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