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British Muslim mother held prisoner in PoK freed: Report

A British Muslim mother and her four children kept captive by their relatives in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir for eight months have been freed, after she wrote a "secret letter" to his brother in UK for help.

world Updated: Jun 19, 2010 16:00 IST

A British Muslim mother and her four children kept captive by their relatives in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir for eight months have been freed, after she wrote a "secret letter" to his brother in UK for help.

Farzana Ahmed, 32, from Stockton-on-Tees had travelled to Pakistan after suffering difficulties in her marriage and expected her husband to join her. But he failed to do so.

Instead, she was kept locked inside the home of her husband's family in the city of Mirpur with her children, aged two, four, eight and 12, The Daily Telegraph reported.

She claimed she was told her children would be killed if she tried to escape. Armed officers arrived at the house with a court order on Friday demanding she be allowed to return to Britain.

"After a month they started hitting me and swearing and telling me they wouldn't let me go home," Ahmed said.

"I'm safe now. I'm left with a real scared feeling. I can't walk past the window and I don't want to let go of my children."

Abdul Hamid, a senior officer in Mirpur, said the woman had been treated like a "slave", doing menial household chores.

"She was miserable. She was not allowed to leave the house or do the normal activities, so she wrote a secret letter to her brother in the UK for help," he said.

Armed officers arrived at the house with a court order demanding she be allowed to return to Britain.

"Now she is free," Hamid. "She is feeling better and is safe with we now just have to recover her documents and get her home."

Pakistan has a huge problem with kidnappings. Thousands of people are snatched every year for ransom by criminal gangs. Others are held against their will when arranged marriages break down.

Wealthy British Pakistanis, who hold dual nationality and travel back and forth between the two countries are a particular target.

Mirpur is often known as "little Britain". Shops advertise prices in sterling and Manchester accents are commonplace.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad said consular staff were ready to help if needed.

"We are aware of the case and the local authorities are assisting the family," he said.

Earlier this year a five-year-old British Boy, Sahil Saeed, from Oldham, was held for two weeks until his family raised a 110,000 pounds ransom.