Pakistan's Interior Minister on Sunday warned the men who kidnapped a 5-year-old British boy in central Pakistan last week that authorities are close to apprehending them. Interior Minister Rehman Malik also said police have clues that indicate the crime was carried out by people close to the boy's family, which has Pakistani origins.
"We have certain leads that I would not like to discuss," Malik told reporters during a visit to Jhelum, the city in Punjab province where Sahil Saeed was snatched from his grandmother's house overnight Wednesday after robbers held the family at gunpoint for several hours.
The robbers also took some household possessions and demanded a large ransom to return the child, whose plight has received significant attention in both Pakistan and Britain. "I am warning those abductors to release the boy because we are very near to you," Malik said.
The boy's family has made several emotional appeals for his release, and his father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, said Sunday after meeting with Malik that he was satisfied with the Pakistani government's efforts.
"My son will come back home safely, God willing," Saeed said during a joint appearance with the interior minister. Saeed earlier told Sky News the kidnappers demanded 100,000 British pounds ($150,000) in ransom. The family had been scheduled to return to Britain on Thursday before the kidnapping occurred.
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 citizens. "Our thoughts are with Sahil and his family at this extremely distressing time," the British Foreign Office said in a statement Sunday. "We call on whoever is holding Sahil to return him to his family."