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Kidnapped boy to be returned 'within 48 hours'

The Pakistani government has reassured the father of a five-year-old British boy that his son will be returned "within 48 hours" as the police were said to be closing in on the kidnappers.

Sahil Saeed was snatched last Wednesday from his grandmother's home in the town of Jhelum, hours before he and his father were due to fly back to Britain. Raja Naqqash Saeed, Sahil's father, told The Independent: "Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, visited us today and said that my son will be returned to me within 48 hours.

"I asked Mr Malik what was happening to my son. He said that he was not allowed to tell me anything further. It's for the safety of my son, Mr Malik said, that he could not give more details about their investigation," Mr Saeed added.

Mr Malik was equally coy with reporters at the Saeed family's house earlier yesterday. "We have leads that I would not like to discuss," the Interior Minister said, in a joint appearance with Mr Saeed. "But a warning to those abductors: leave the boy because we are very near you."

The promise of "good news" came as four members of the police's emergency response unit were suspended for failing to react to the kidnapping swiftly enough.

Mr Saeed hailed the Punjab province's decision. "It's a very good decision," he said. "On the night of the kidnapping, I called 15, the emergency number," he explained. "I told them to follow the black Toyota Corolla that the kidnappers came in. The car even had a tracking device in it that they could follow. But there was no response."