Don't hurt my boy, mother begs kidnappers

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The Independent Online

The mother of a five-year-old British boy snatched by gun-wielding robbers in Pakistan wept today as she begged the kidnappers not to hurt him

Akila Naqqash, 31, said there was "no way" her family could afford the £100,000 ransom on her son Sahil Saeed's head.

He was snatched this morning in the Punjab region after his grandmother's house was raided by five robbers.

Speaking at her home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, Ms Naqqash paid tribute to her "really sweet boy".

She added: "We have got no idea why we were targeted, we don't have any money. There is no way we could raise that money, there is nothing we can do.

"I would say (to the kidnappers) just why? Why can't you just be a grown person? He is just a little boy. He is just five years old, he was due to come home today. Please don't hurt him.

Breaking down in tears, Ms Naqqash added: "He is just a really sweet little boy, he is really tiny, he would not harm anyone."

She told how her son was "always smiling" but had become fed up with eating chapatis since his father had taken him to stay with relatives. He had been due to fly home with his father today.

Ms Naqqash added: "I phoned him every day of the last two weeks.

"When I last spoke to him he just said he couldn't wait to come home and have a jacket potato, he was fed up of the chapatis. He loves jacket potatoes with sweetcorn, cucumber, salad, he is a very healthy little boy.

"He is always smiling, he has lots of friends. He is very popular at school, he loves his friends and his teachers and his school dinners.

"He was having such a good time out there, he was excited about going out there and seeing his grandmother."

His father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, said the kidnappers had originally put a noon deadline on the ransom for his safe return.

The father was "hysterical" after five gunmen held the family at gunpoint throughout the night, the family said.

He said robbers armed with guns and hand grenades broke into the house in Jhelum, where he and his son were staying with the youngster's grandmother.

Ms Naqqash, who also has two daughters, Anisha, four, and Hafsah, 21 months, said she had heard nothing from the kidnappers.

She added: "My husband would swap places if he could, he said to them 'take me, I'll be your hostage'. We just want him back home.

"I found out at 7.45am when my sister knocked on the door, I was just making breakfast for my daughter.

"She said 'you need to sit down I've got some bad news'.

"I just broke down and thought it can't be true so I phoned my husband and he said it was true.

"I just cried and cried. That was the last time I spoke to him, I cant get through to him.

"We haven't heard anything from the kidnappers. All we can do is wait."

The boy's aunt, Amrana Iftikhar, called for the Prime Minister to intervene.

She added: "I just can't imagine life without Sahil. We just want him home safely.

"We have had no contact with the authorities in this country. Please just help us. He is five years old he is going to be really scared, he never leaves his mum and dad's side.

"I would say to the Prime Minister do as much as you can to get him back because we need him home with us."

Relatives said they were beaten, slapped and kicked by the robbers during a six-hour ordeal.

The father told Sky News: "They took me into the separate room and they tortured me.

"They said 'we will take your son and you will have to pay £100,000'."

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad said they had broken into the property at 11pm local time.

They eventually fled with the boy and household items, believed to be jewellery and money.

The family had been due to fly back to Britain today, the commission spokesman added.

Officials are in touch with the boy's family and local authorities are investigating the snatch, he added.

He said: "I can confirm that he was taken after robbers broke into the property at 11 last night. The kidnappers held the family at gunpoint overnight and left with the boy as well as some household possessions.

"We cannot confirm details of the ransom amount but the father has said it is £100,000."

Jane Sheridan, head teacher at Rushcroft Primary School where Sahil attended, said she was "deeply concerned".

She said: "Rushcroft is a very close-knit and friendly school community and Sahil and his family are very much in all our thoughts.

"I have informed the children, staff and governors about the situation today and clearly they are all very worried.

"Everyone at the school is deeply concerned about Sahil's welfare and we are doing all we can to support his family during this extremely difficult time."