Pakistani police said today they had arrested two of the men who kidnapped a five-year-old British boy for 12 days this month, and paraded the hooded and shackled suspects before the media. Sahil Saeed arrived back in England last week after an international police effort to free him from a kidnap gang that snatched him from his grandmother's house in Jhelum in central Pakistan on March 4, demanding a hefty ransom.
Pakistani and British officials launched a hunt for the boy and 12 days later Sahil was recovered safe and well in a field not far from Jhelum ? but only after the boy's uncle had paid a £ 110,000 (Dh604,509) ransom in Paris. That was largely recovered, however, in an international operation that resulted in five arrests in France and Spain. Police in Jhelum said they had arrested two Pakistani men and were searching for two others who allegedly staged the initial kidnapping and robbery. The gang was also wanted for up to 22 murder and robbery cases.
"We have arrested two members of this international gang," Aslam Tarin, regional police chief, said at a televised press conference in Jhelum. "One is Safeer from Lala Musa and other is Imran from Rawalpindi, who are already wanted in various crimes of kidnapping for ransom and murders after kidnapping," he added. He did not say when the men were arrested. Local television footage showed the two men hooded and in shackles, surrounded by police officers.
"We had no prior planning to kidnap this boy," one of the suspects was heard saying beneath his hood. He did not identify himself. Mr Tarin said the men had gone to the house in Jhelum with the intention of robbing it, and had then seized upon the kidnapping plot which turned into an international criminal escapade. A Pakistani man and a Romanian woman, both awaiting trial on murder charges, were among five people arrested by police in France and Spain last week.
The couple travelled from the northeastern Spanish town of Constanti, which has a large Pakistani community, to Paris to collect the ransom. They were arrested on their return to Spain, and police found nearly £104,000 (Dh571,612) and more than ?3,000 (Dh 4,703) in the couple's flat in Constanti. Another Pakistani man was arrested in Constanti while French police detained two relatives of the man who went to Paris as alleged accomplices.