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Bid to spring bin Laden’s wives and children by Taliban - warning

Pakistan warned today that the Taliban are plotting to secure the freedom of Osama bin Laden's wives and children by kidnapping a high-ranking government official and then offering to exchange him or her for the former terror chief's family.

US Navy Seals killed bin Laden in a May helicopter-borne raid on his house in north-western Pakistan.

They took the corpse with them, but left at least two of his wives and several children in the house.

They were detained by Pakistani authorities.

Pakistan's interior ministry warned of the kidnap purported plot in a letter that was sent to top security officials on August 23 - just three days before gunmen seized Shahbaz Taseer, the son of a wealthy provincial governor who was killed by an Islamist militant earlier this year.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said there was no evidence that the group that had seized Mr Taseer from the streets of the Punjab provincial capital, Lahore, was hoping to exchange him for bin Laden's family members.

An Associated Press reported obtained a copy of the letter, stamped "secret" on Friday.

It said the information that led to the warning was reliable. It doesn't say which Pakistani official the Taliban plan to kidnap, but said the most likely location was one of the country's four provincial capitals.

Pakistan has reportedly released Taliban prisoners before in exchange for kidnapped government officials and army officers.

Mr Taseer's kidnapping was the second high-profile abduction in Lahore in August. On August 15, gunmen seized a 70-year-old American aid expert from his house. The man, Warren Weinstein, is still missing, and police have declined to speculate on who may be holding him.