LONDON – A man was arrested in Pakistan on Thursday in connection with the kidnapping of a 5-year-old British boy there, Britain's Foreign Office said.
Police in Pakistan made the arrest and were detaining the man for questioning, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
British consular staff were in close contact with the investigating Pakistani officer, she said, without providing other details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with Foreign Office regulations.
Robbers kidnapped the boy, Sahil Saeed, from his grandmother's house in Pakistan's Punjab province and demanded a large ransom for his return, according to British officials and the boy's family.
The robbers entered the house late Wednesday night in Jhelum city and terrorized the family for several hours before leaving with the boy, whose father is Pakistani, said George Sheriff, the press attache at the British High Commission in Islamabad.
"The kidnappers held the family at gunpoint overnight and left with household possessions as well as taking the boy with them," Sheriff said.
British officials have been in touch with the boy's parents, who had been scheduled to return from their holiday to Britain on Thursday.
The boy's father, Raja Naqqash Saeed, told Sky News that the kidnappers have demanded $150,000 for the boy's return.
"I told them I don't have that much money. ... I can't afford that," Saeed said.
Kidnappings have risen in Pakistan in recent years, driven by a foundering economy that leads more people to crime and the overall erosion of security as the country faces a violent Islamist insurgency.
Criminals are suspected in most kidnappings, but the Taliban and other militant groups are thought to earn a slice of the money. The sums demanded can run into the millions of dollars, though the captors often settle for less.
The British boy's mother made an emotional televised appeal for his safe return.
"I just want my son back safe," Akila Naqqash told Sky from her home in Manchester, in northern England, as tears ran down her cheeks. "We have got no idea why we were targeted, we don't have any money," she said.