LAHORE, Pakistan – Using tips from arrested suspects, police on Thursday safely recovered a U.S. development expert who was kidnapped almost two weeks ago in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, a senior police official said.
Police traced the whereabouts of Warren Weinstein, 70, to Khushab city, located some 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Lahore, and freed him during an early morning operation, said Lahore police chief Malik Ahmed Raza.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad could not immediately confirm that Weinstein had been found.
Weinstein was abducted before dawn on August 13 after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. He is the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.
Authorities expressed frustration for more than a week that they didn't have solid clues about who arrested the American. But that changed Wednesday, when police said they arrested three people suspected of belonging to the kidnapping gang.
Their arrests were made after officers tracked cell phone numbers, and the information they provided was critical to finding Weinstein, said Raza, the police chief. He did not provide the identities of the kidnappers.
Kidnappings are common in Pakistan, and foreigners are occasional targets. Criminal gangs are suspected in most abductions, but militants are also believed to use the tactic to raise money through ransoms.
Weinstein, who has a home in Rockville, Maryland, worked in Pakistan for several years and spoke a fair amount of Urdu.
J.E. Austin Associates has stressed Weinstein's commitment to Pakistan's economic development and said he worked with a wide range of Pakistani government agencies, including the Pakistan Furniture Development Company and the Pakistan Dairy Development Company.
The company has also said Weinstein is in poor health and provided a detailed list of medications, many of them for heart problems. It implored the kidnappers to provide the medicines to the development expert.