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Did relative help kidnap 5-year-old British boy?

The kidnapping of a 5-year-old British boy in Pakistan may have involved someone in his family, a top Pakistani diplomat says.
Sahil Saeed
Akila Naqqash holds a picture of her five-year-old son Sahil at her home in Oldham, England.Dave Thompson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The kidnapping of a 5-year-old British boy in Pakistan may have involved someone in his family, a top Pakistani diplomat said Friday, adding a twist to a case that has transfixed Britain's media.

Sahil Saeed was snatched from his grandmother's house in Pakistan's Jehlum city overnight Wednesday after robbers held the family at gunpoint for several hours, British officials and the boy's family said.

The robbers also took some household possessions and demanded a large ransom to return the child, whose picture and story made British and some Pakistani front pages Friday.

The case is among a soaring number of kidnappings for ransom in Pakistan, where Taliban-led militancy and a struggling economy have fueled crime. Most victims are Pakistani nationals.

Wajid Hassan, Pakistan's envoy to London, suggested that someone close to Sahil's family may been involved.

Investigators are "looking at the possibility of a sort of inside job," he told Britain's GMTV.

"There's a possibility of someone in the family having some sort of knowledge."

British Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said arrests had been made in Pakistan and that police were following strong leads.

"This is the No. 1 priority for the Foreign Office in Pakistan," he told BBC television.

Pakistani police investigator Raja Tahir Bashir said they were questioning some suspects in connection with the abduction, but declined to give details.

"God willing, we will recover the boy very soon," he said.

British officials have been in touch with the boy's parents, who had been scheduled to return to Britain from their holiday on Thursday, said George Sheriff, the press attache at the British High Commission in Islamabad.

Sahil's father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, told Sky News the kidnappers have demanded 100,000 British pounds ($150,000) in ransom.

"I told them I don't have that much money ... I can't afford that," Saeed said.

Criminal gangs are suspected in most kidnappings for ransom in Pakistan, but the Taliban and other militant groups are thought to profit from many of the abductions also. The sums demanded can run into the millions of dollars, though the captors often settle for less.

The British boy's mother made an emotional televised appeal for his safe return.

"I just want my son back safe," Akila Naqqash told Sky from her home near Manchester, in northern England, as tears ran down her cheeks.

"We have got no idea why we were targeted — we don't have any money."