Police dash 'kidnap boy Sahil Saeed found' hopes

Hopes that five-year-old British boy Sahil Saeed had been found were dashed today as the police chief leading the investigation in Pakistan confirmed the search is ongoing.

Muhammad Aslam Tareen, a detective based in Punjab, said he could "categorically confirm" the youngster, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, is still missing.

Mr Tareen said: "We are closing in, yes. But have we found him yet? No. We hope to have something in the next 24 to 48 hours."

The detective added: "I can categorically say the search is ongoing. We have made arrests in the past week and we are hopeful of significant progress in the next day."

It came after the British High Commission in Islamabad and the Foreign Office said they had received "no evidence" to support Sky News reports that he had been found yesterday, quoting Pakistani government officials.

Sahil was allegedly grabbed by gun and grenade-wielding raiders from his grandmother's house in Punjab last Thursday.

The raiders allegedly struck as Sahil and his father were preparing to fly home, apparently subjecting the family to a six-hour ordeal after breaking into the house in Jhelum.

There were conflicting reports that his father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, who was with him on the trip, had returned to Britain.

Pakistan's prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called Sahil's father at the weekend to assure him the family had the full support of his government.

On Sunday, the boy's mother, Akila Naqqash, made a direct appeal to the abductors from the family home in Oldham to end their ordeal and let her son go.

In a message to the kidnappers, Ms Naqqash, 31, said: "I just want my son back. All is forgiven, I will forgive you.

"You may have children yourself. I forgive you."

Sources at Manchester Airport said Mr Saeed arrived back in the UK on a flight from Islamabad at 6.30pm on Tuesday.

But sources close to the family in Shaw, Oldham, said they were unaware that Mr Saeed had returned to the UK or of why he would choose to do so as the hunt to find his son continues in Pakistan.

The family has been in regular contact with Sahil's father since the boy's disappearance but the current whereabouts of Mr Saeed are unknown.

Two officials from the Pakistan High Commission spent a hour inside the family home in Oldham before they left without making comment.

It is thought they were questioning family members on the whereabouts of Mr Saeed.