British boy Sahil Saeed kidnap 'mastermind' arrested

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The Independent Online

The alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping of a five-year-old British boy in Pakistan has been arrested, police said today.

Another man wanted in connection with the kidnapping as well as 22 murders was also arrested, Pakistan police said.

The two suspects were captured during a series of raids last night in the city of Jhelum, where Sahil Saeed was taken on March 4.

Regional police chief Muhammad Aslam Tareen, who is leading the investigation, said the men had admitted taking part in the kidnapping.

He said the men decided to take the boy and demand a ransom during an opportunistic burglary.

The police chief said the house where the boy was kidnapped was targeted after a door was left open.

He said: "It was random. They went to rob a house and when they were on the move they saw the door was open.

"They entered the house and started searching for valuables and cash.

"But they couldn't find much so they decided to take the boy and make a demand for ransom.

"They are very much connected (with the kidnapping). They have admitted that they have done this. They are professional criminals.

"We are still in search of two others. We are after them and very soon we will catch them."

He said one of those arrested was the alleged "mastermind" of the kidnap group and the other was already wanted in Rawalpindi, where his gang had allegedly committed 22 murders.

The men were arrested at different locations in Jhelum during raids across the city involving 200 officers.

The police chief said a "huge quantity" of arms and ammunition was also recovered, including Kalashnikovs, automatic weapons, hand grenades, rocket launchers and explosive devices.

At the weekend, Sahil's father, Raja Saeed, described how the heavily armed gang who took his son said they could put an explosive jacket on the boy and "blow him to pieces".

He said the kidnappers - four men with guns and grenades - ambushed the family as they prepared to travel to the airport by taxi at the end of their holiday.

Mr Saeed, from Oldham, told the Mail on Sunday: "They said, 'We're going to take your son. We know you're a businessman and we know you have lots of money'.

"My heart pounded. I pleaded with them, telling them I was not a rich man and had no money. I was completely helpless."

A man from the gang initially demanded £200,000 as a ransom, which was slowly negotiated down to £110,000.

Sahil was eventually released unharmed on March 16.

Three people - two Pakistani men and a Romanian woman - have already appeared in court in Spain accused of involvement in the kidnapping. Two others were arrested in France.