Diplomat's Kidnappers Demand Ransom

A group claiming to have kidnapped a Pakistani diplomat in Iraq (search) has demanded money for his release, a senior government official said Monday.

Malik Mohammed Javed (search), a deputy counselor at the Pakistani mission in the Iraqi capital Baghdad (search), went missing late Saturday after leaving home for prayers at a nearby mosque.

Javed's kidnappers have made a demand for money in return for his freedom, said the Pakistani official on condition of anonymity.

"They have made contact. They are asking for money," he said. He would not specify the amount or say how the abductors made contact.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said that a previously unknown group clling itself Omar bin Khattab" had abducted Javed.

The ministry said Javed had been allowed to contact the Pakistani Embassy in Baghdad to assure officials that he had not been harmed, it said.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed appealed on Sunday for Javed's release on humanitarian grounds and condemned his abduction.

A son of Javed said on Monday that the family is awaiting news about him.

"We are waiting to hear something about our father. There has been no call from Baghdad this morning," said Bilal Malik, a 20-year-old university student.

"The entire family is gathered here. Everyone is praying for his release," he said by telephone from his home in Islamabad.

Javed is the fourth Pakistani to be kidnapped in Iraq. One was released in June but two others were killed after being abducted a month later.

Militants who had claimed kidnapping the slain men had demanded that Pakistan, a U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, not send troops to Iraq. Pakistan has declined Washington requests to deploy troops to the war-town country.