Pak police hope to find kidnapped American ‘soon’

Up to 8 assailants kidnapped Warren Weinstein, the country director for JE Austin Associates Inc.

Lahore: An American development expert kidnapped 11 days ago in the Pakistani city of Lahore should be recovered "soon," a top police official said Wednesday.

Up to eight assailants kidnapped Warren Weinstein, the country director for J.E. Austin Associates Inc., in a pre-dawn raid on his house in the eastern city of Lahore on August 13.

"He (Weinstein) has not been taken out of Pakistan," said Lahore police chief Ahmed Raza Tahir told media. "We will soon recover him."

"We have arrested three men, two from Wazirabad and one from Faisalabad and we are trying to reach their network through them," he said, referring to cities in the central Punjab province.

Police have also released a sketch of a suspect.

JE Austin Associates Inc., is an Arlington, Va.-based consulting firm and has been working on a development project in the lawless tribal areas where Pakistani troops have been battling Islamist insurgents for years.

The brazen raid raised worries among aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners working in Pakistan, which is battling Islamist militancy and where anti-American sentiments run very high.

There has been no demand for ransom so far, police say.

The victim, 70, had been living in Pakistan for five to six years, according to police. He mostly lived in Islamabad but had been traveling to Lahore.

Kidnapping for ransom is relatively common in Pakistan, although foreigners are not often targets.

Militants also occasionally take foreigners hostage but these incidents have taken place in the volatile western regions bordering Afghanistan, where Islamist insurgents are very active.

Pakistani Taliban, linked to al Qaeda, have claimed responsibility for kidnapping a Swiss couple in July in the volatile southwestern province of Baluchistan.

Eight Pakistani employees of a US-based aid organization, American Refugee Committee, were kidnapped in the western province of Baluchistan last month.

Bureau Report

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