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Police swoop for suspects linked to kidnapping of British boy

By Al Goodman, CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
One of the suspects is cuffed by Spanish police.
One of the suspects is cuffed by Spanish police.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sahil Saeed was released at a school in the Punjab province of Pakistan
  • Police arrested five people in Spain and France who are linked to the kidnapping
  • Police: Two suspects arrested in Spain went to Paris, France, to collect ransom
  • Police found cash and mobile phones used by suspects in France to contact boy's father

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Police have arrested five people in Spain and France who are linked to the kidnapping of a 5-year-old British boy in Pakistan, Spanish police said Wednesday.

Two others arrested in France are relatives of at least some of the suspects in Spain, and provided housing for the duo who went to Paris to collect the ransom, police said.

The first phone calls requesting a ransom had come from Spain, police said.

On Tuesday, the boy, Sahil Saeed, was released in good condition at a school in the Punjab province of Pakistan, after nearly two weeks in captivity, the British High Commission said.

Sahil, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, was taken on March 3, on the last day of a two-week vacation in Pakistan before he was to return home to Oldham, in northern England.

Gunmen barged into Sahil's grandmother's home in Jhelum and took him. They reportedly demanded a ransom of 10 million rupees ($118,000).

In Spain, the police said they seized at the suspects' home a total of £105,000 ($160,818) in cash, 3,565 euros ($4,901) in cash, and a new computer purchased in France during the suspects' trip there.

That combined total, plus the travel expenses of the suspects to and from France, would account for the entirety of the ransom, the police said in a statement.

Video: Kidnapped boy freed
Video: Spanish police raid home
RELATED TOPICS
  • Pakistan

They also found mobile phones used by the suspects in France to contact the boy's father, the police said.

Interpol, the international police agency based in France, informed Spanish police about the kidnapping of the boy in Pakistan, and Spanish investigators soon determined that the initial calls demanding a ransom had come from a town in Tarragona province, southwest of Barcelona.

An alleged representative for the kidnappers, who spoke Urdu, initially set a three-day deadline for the ransom to be paid, in Manchester, England. He and another alleged kidnapper representative, a woman, made 15 calls to negotiate the ransom, the police said.

The father of the boy first went to Manchester, but once there, was told by the alleged kidnapper representatives to go to Paris, with the cash, where the ransom was finally paid, Spanish police said.

Police observed the payment, on a Paris street, and saw the suspects put the money in a small bag and wheeled suitcase.

French police followed the male and female suspects south to the Spanish border, where Spanish officers picked up the surveillance, while the boy in Pakistan remained in captivity, the police said.

The two suspects eventually arrived at the town of Constanti in Tarragona province, and with a third suspect, a man, took the ransom to an apartment. Police closed in to make arrests on Tuesday after the boy in Pakistan had been safely released.

The three suspects in Spain face arraignment Thursday before a judge in Tarragona, said a court official with the Superior Court of Catalonia.

Catalonia's regional capital is Barcelona and one of its provinces is Tarragona.

A police spokeswoman told CNN the suspects in Spain are not Spaniards but could not immediately provide details about their nationalities.

The Diari de Tarragona newspaper reported that two of the suspects are Pakistanis and that the third is a Romanian woman.

Several thousand Pakistani nationals or people of Pakistani descent live in Catalonia, especially in the Barcelona area, Pakistani community leaders have previously told CNN.