Pakistani police are closing in on the kidnappers of a five-year-old British boy, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday, adding that the abductors appeared to be close to the boy's family. Sahil Saeed, who is of Pakistani origin, was abducted last Thursday after gunmen barged into the house of a relative, held the family at gun-point for hours and then left with some valuables and the boy, Reuters reported.
"We have certain leads which we would not like to disclose but a warning to those abductors: leave the boy because we are very near to you," Malik told reporters in the city of Jhelum after meeting the boy's father.
Kidnapping is a major problem in Pakistan and many of the crimes go unreported. Police have said Taliban militants use ransoms from kidnappings to fund their insurgency against the U.S.-backed government.
No sign has emerged that the abduction of the boy, who is from the English town of Oldham, was linked to militants.
Police in Jhelum said last week the gunmen took away 150,000 rupees ($1,750) and some gold and later demanded a 10 million rupee ($118,000) ransom.
The kidnappers had been tipped off that the boy and his father were planning to fly home to Britain on Thursday after visiting relatives in Pakistan, police said.
Police said they suspected a taxi driver who was supposed to take the boy and his father to the airport might have had links with the gang. The driver was taken into custody.
Malik said the abductors appeared to have links with the family.
"There is someone who is very close to the family because the way the situation has happened, the way the entry was made, the way the conduct was done during the whole operation," he said.
He did not elaborate but said he hoped the boy would be recovered in the next few days and an example would be made of the kidnappers.
"We will make sure that we make an example out of it so nobody dares to do that kind of thing," he said.
Sahil's father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, said he was hopeful.
"I am fully confident ... my son will come back home safely," said Saeed, who met reporters with Malik.