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Pakistani Police 'Closing In' on Abductors of British Boy

Akila Naqqash holds a picture of her son Sahil Saeed, 5, in Oldham, Manchester, north-west England, on 4 Mar 2010

Pakistani officials say police are closing in on the kidnappers of a five-year-old British boy, who was taken from his family at gunpoint last week.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Sunday that authorities now believe the kidnapping was carried out by people close to the boy's family. He warned the abductors to release the boy, who is of Pakistani origin, before they are caught by police.

Sahil Saeed was taken by armed robbers from his grandmother's house in the northeastern Pakistani city of Jhelum Wednesday. His father, who is Pakistani, said the kidnappers are demanding a $120,000 ransom.

Pakistani police have reported a surge in kidnapping cases in recent years as violence has worsened in the country. Authorities mostly blame criminal gangs and militants who use ransom payments to fund their activities. Most of the victims are Pakistani citizens.

Britain's foreign office has released a statement calling on Saeed's abductors to release him. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ordered authorities to step up their efforts to find the boy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.