Joy for family as Pakistan kidnap boy Sahil Saeed freed

The mother of a five-year-old British boy kidnapped by gunmen in Pakistan spoke of her joy today after he was released unharmed.





Sahil Saeed, who was snatched from a house in the Punjab region on March 4, was found wandering alone in a field this morning.



His mother Akila Naqqash, speaking from the family home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, described the moment she found out he had been released.



"It was amazing. At first I thought it was not true."



She added: "I talked to him on the phone, my little boy. It reassured me that he is safe and he's been released from the kidnappers. That's enough for me."



She said she was "gobsmacked" to hear her son's voice again on the phone.





Beaming broadly, Sahil's mother said her son seemed unharmed by his ordeal and had been asking about his sisters and other family members during a brief phone chat.

She said: "He was going on and on and on about his toys - just a normal little boy."



Sahil is understood to still be in Pakistan and his return is being organised by the British High Commission in Islamabad.



It is thought family members will fly out to be reunited with him in Pakistan before he is flown back to the UK.



Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Dave Thompson said the boy was released at 4.10am British time in Kharian City, Punjab.



He said: "The release was made as a result of a phone call made to his family.



"He was released nearby to a school, alone, wandered into a local field and was found by some local residents who looked after him until such time his family found him with the police."



He also praised the "support and co-operation" given by Sahil's mother and father.



Sahil was on holiday with his father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, in Pakistan when he was snatched. Raiders struck as the pair were preparing to take a taxi to the airport for their flight home to the UK.



The kidnappers apparently demanded a £100,000 ransom for the boy's return and originally set a deadline of noon the next day for the money to be delivered.



His family promptly said there was "no way" they could afford any such payment.



After Sahil was taken, several men - including a taxi driver - were arrested.



His family suffered frustrations during the investigation after Pakistani authorities said on several occasions that they were close to securing the boy's release.



Sahil's mother begged for the safe return of her son, telling the kidnappers at one point: "I just want my son back. All is forgiven, I will forgive you."



His father returned to the UK at the start of last week, despite reports that police in Pakistan wanted him to stay in the country as a witness.



Police said they were determined that Sahil's kidnappers would be brought to justice.



Mr Thompson said: "This remains a fast-moving international inquiry. It is led in Pakistan but over the last 12 days there has been considerable support delivered by the Greater Manchester Police to support the safe return of this young boy.



"This still remains a very active criminal investigation and Greater Manchester Police and the Pakistani authorities are still determined to bring people to justice and that will be a high priority in the coming hours, days and weeks."





British High Commissioner in Pakistan Adam Thomson said Sahil was "in good spirits", although tired.

Mr Thomson said: "I am simply delighted that Sahil has been released safe and sound.



"I know that his family must be overjoyed following almost two weeks of terrible anxiety and uncertainty.



"The top priority for the High Commission now is to ensure he is reunited with his parents as soon as possible and to help with his return to the UK.



"Sahil is in the care of the Pakistani authorities and his uncle. The British Consul is also with him and is continuing to provide all the help she can.



"Although a little tired, Sahil has been in good spirits. He has also spoken to his mum and dad on the telephone this morning.



"I would like to commend the close co-operation between the UK and Pakistani authorities, and warmly thank the Jhelum police for their role in securing Sahil's safe return.



"As the Greater Manchester Police have made clear, there remains an active police investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on ongoing operational issues."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most