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Mum’s joy as Pakistan kidnap boy freed

British five-year-old Sahil Saeed, was snatched from his grandmother’s house in the Punjab region earlier this month, by an armed gang who demanded £100,000 for his release. This morning he was found unhurt wandering alone in a field 20 miles from the Punjabi town of Jhelum, where he was abducted.

The Punjab state law minister, Rana Sanaullah, told Sky News today that Sahil’s father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, had personally handed over the cash. Speaking from the family home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, his mother Akila Naqqash, said: "It was amazing. At first I thought it was not true." "I talked to him on the phone, my little boy. It reassured me that he is safe and he's been released from the kidnappers. That's enough for me,” she told Associated Press news service." She said she was "gobsmacked" to hear Sahil’s voice again on the phone and that her son seemed unharmed by his ordeal. "He was going on and on about his toys and his sisters," she said. "Just a normal little boy.”

The British High Commission in Islamabad is organising for Sahil to return to Britain and the family is expected to fly out to be reunited with him in Pakistan before he is flown back to the UK. Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson of Greater Manchester Police told reporters in Oldham that he could not confirm that a ransom had been paid. But he added: "The reason for the father's return was very much about ensuring that the release of his child could be secured." He added that Sahil’s release at 4.10am in Kharian City “was made as a result of a phone call made to his family. He was released nearby to a school, alone, wandered into a local field and was found by some local residents who looked after him until such time his family found him with the police."

Mr Thompson would not comment on reports that the kidnappers had international links or used agents in a third country, said to be Spain. "It's a fast-moving international inquiry," he said. The kidnappers had demanded a £100,000 ransom and asked for it to be paid by noon the next day. But the family said there was "no way" they could afford that kind of amount.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children