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American abducted in Pakistan, U.S. Embassy says

By Reza Sayah, CNN
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American taken at gunpoint in Pakistan
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gunmen abducted an American from his Lahore, Pakistan residence, authorities say
  • He is identified as Warren Weinstein, the U.S. Embassy says
  • There has been no claim of responsibility, or demands
  • U.S. State Department updated its travel advisory to Pakistan this week, citing reported abductions

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Gunmen abducted an American development expert early Saturday, pistol-whipping him and his driver, and tying up his guards after getting past security by posing as neighbors offering food, U.S. Embassy and Pakistani officials told CNN.

The U.S. embassy identified the man as Warren Weinstein, and a Pakistani official said he works for a U.S. consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia. He's is a world-renowned development expert, with 25 years of experience, according to his company's website.

As Weinstein's security guards prepared for the meal before the Ramadan fast early Saturday, three men knocked at the front gate and offered food for the meal -- a traditional practice among Muslims during the Ramadan holy month, according to senior Lahore police official Tajamal Hussain.

Once the gate was opened, the three men forced their way in, while five other suspects entered the house from the back, Hussain said. The men tied up the three security guards and duct-taped their mouths, he said. They pistol-whipped the driver and forced him to take them to Weinstein's room where the men hit Weinstein in the head with a pistol, and forced him out of the house and into a waiting car, Hussain said. He said Weinstein is in his 60s.

Warren Weinstein, left, is shown in this group photograph.
Warren Weinstein, left, is shown in this group photograph.

There has been no claim of responsibility nor any demands by any groups so far, according to senior police official Awais Ahmed.

Weinstein has lived in the residence in an upscale Lahore neighborhood for several years, Ahmed said. He works for JE Austin Associates Inc., according to Lahore police chief Nayab Haider.

According to the company's website, the consulting firm is based in Arlington, Virginia. The site says he was heading what the company described as the "Pakistan Initiative for Strategic Development and Competitiveness."

It also says Weinstein is a Fulbright Scholar in Belgium and is proficient in six languages, with a doctorate in international law and economics.

American taken at gunpoint in Pakistan
American kidnapped from home in Lahore
RELATED TOPICS
  • Pakistan

U.S. Embassy officials are working with Pakistani authorities on the case, embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said

The U.S. State Department this week updated a travel advisory for Americans traveling and working in Pakistan, warning that extremist groups operating in the country were continuing to target U.S. and other Western citizens and interests.

It cited part of the reason for the advisory as "reported" abductions of U.S. citizens "for ransom or personal reasons," including the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in Lahore in June. No further details about that incident were released.

Abductions are not unusual in Pakistan, though those targeted are typically Pakistani rather than American or Western.

In early July, a Swiss couple was grabbed at gunpoint while traveling in the town of Loralai in the volatile southwestern Balochistan province, provincial officials said at the time.

Three weeks after their abduction, Pakistani authorities said they believed the couple was still alive.

Weinstein's abduction follows another high-profile incident involving an American in Lahore.

Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, was charged with killing two men in January, but was released in March after compensation was paid to their families.

CNN's Nasir Habib in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Salma Abdelaziz in Atlanta contributed to this report

 
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