US man abducted in Pakistan rescued

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The Independent Online

Police in Pakistan have safely recovered a US development expert who was kidnapped almost two weeks ago in the eastern city of Lahore, a senior official said.

Using tips from arrested suspects, officers traced Warren Weinstein, 70, to Khushab city, which is about 125 miles north west of Lahore.

They freed him during an early morning operation, said Lahore police chief Malik Ahmed Raza.

The US embassy in Islamabad could not immediately confirm that Weinstein had been found.

He was abducted before dawn on August 13 after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. He is the country director in Pakistan for JE Austin Associates, a US-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.

Authorities were frustrated for more than a week with no solid clues about who abducted the American. But that changed yesterday, when police said they had arrested three people suspected of belonging to the kidnapping gang.

Their arrests were made after officers tracked mobile phone numbers and the information they provided was critical to finding Weinstein, said Raza.

Kidnappings are common in Pakistan, and foreigners are occasional targets. Criminal gangs are suspected in most abductions, but militants are also believed to use the tactic to raise money through ransom.

Weinstein, who has a home in Rockville, Maryland, had worked in Pakistan for several years and speaks a fair amount of Urdu.

JE Austin Associates has stressed Weinstein's commitment to Pakistan's economic development and said he worked with a wide range of Pakistani government agencies, including the Pakistan Furniture Development Company and the Pakistan Dairy Development Company.

The company has also said Weinstein is in poor health and provided a detailed list of his medications, many of them for heart problems. It implored the kidnappers to provide the medicines.