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Pakistan's PM reassures father of kidnapped British boy

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered police to step up their efforts to find a five-year-old British boy who was kidnapped while visiting relatives.

world Updated: Mar 09, 2010 10:12 IST

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered police to step up their efforts to find a five-year-old British boy who was kidnapped while visiting relatives.

Gilani, who telephoned Sahil Saeed's father on Saturday to assure him of his full support, also directed police to provide the family with security.

Kidnappers snatched the boy on Thursday from his grandmother's house in Jhelum, a town about 100 kilometres (65 miles) south of the capital, Islamabad, also stealing jewellery and cash, and demanding a 120,000-dollar ransom.

Gilani called the boy's father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, and "assured him of his government's full support and cooperation in recovering his child," an official in the prime minister's office told AFP.

Senior police official Raja Mohammad Tahir said police were working flat out on the case and that he would be able to provide "good news" soon.

However, he said he could not disclose further details as this might compromise safety and efforts to recover the child.

An AFP reporter saw several policemen deployed around Saeed's house and there was talk of a visit to the house by the provincial chief minister, but officials said bad weather had forced the minister to cancel the visit.

Men, who stormed the house armed with guns and grenades, subjecting the family to a six-hour ordeal shortly before Sahil and his Pakistani father were preparing to take a taxi to the airport and fly home, kidnapped the boy.

Police arrested the taxi driver who had been booked to take them to the airport and said they were confident of recovering the child from the gang. A Pakistani diplomat also said police had made several arrests.

Triggering vigorous denials from the family, Pakistan's high commissioner to London suggested the kidnapping could have been "a sort of inside job."

Saeed vehemently denied that any of his relatives might be involved.

"It is not correct. Nobody from my family is involved in the robbery and kidnapping," Saeed told AFP.

Back home in Oldham, northern England, Sahil's mother, Akila Naqqash, and relatives nervously waited for news of the boy.

Kidnappings of Westerners are rare in Pakistan, but criminal gangs -- some connected to Islamist militant networks -- often abduct locals for ransom.

Other kidnappings are blamed on family disputes.