Freed boy back with mother after Pakistan kidnap

OLDHAM (Reuters) - A British boy kidnapped in Pakistan was reunited with his mother at home in northern England Thursday after his family paid a ransom to secure his release.

Five-year-old Sahil Saeed and his parents briefly posed for pictures outside their home in the town of Oldham after the boy flew back to England with his father from Islamabad.

His mother Akila Naqqash kissed her son and held him in her arms, while he hid his face from waiting media.

A banner with the message “Welcome Home Sahil” was strung across the front of the house. Friends and neighbours cheered and let off fireworks.

“Sahil is doing well, is in good spirits,” his father Raja Saeed said in a statement before they flew home. The family made no comment outside their house.

The child was abducted at his grandmother’s house in Jhelum, northeast Pakistan, on March 4. He was freed after 12 days.

A Pakistani minister told Reuters an “international gang of kidnappers” was responsible for the boy’s abduction.

Gunmen held Sahil’s relatives at gunpoint for hours and took 150,000 rupees (1,151 pounds) and some gold during the kidnapping, and later demanded a 10 million rupee ransom. Spanish police have arrested three people on suspicion of extortion. Two Pakistani men and a Romanian woman were held in the village of Constanti in Catalonia. French police arrested two more people in Paris in connection with the case.

The freed boy and his father Raja Saeed were reunited at the British High Commission (Embassy) in Islamabad. Before leaving Pakistan, he was filmed laughing and playing football with his father in the embassy’s garden.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths