Rana Sanaullah, a provincial minister, told the Reuters news agency that Pakistanis had been arrested, but gave no further details.

He said that an "international gang of kidnappers" was responsible for the abduction of the boy, who is from the English town of Oldham.

'Armed raid'

Spanish authorities said two of those detained in Spain's northeast - a Pakistani man and a Romanian woman - were suspected of going to Paris to seek the ransom.

They were arrested in the town of Constanti in northeastern Spain, the authorities said.

Another Pakistani man was also arrested in Constanti while French police detained two family members of the man who went to Paris for being accomplices. They had put up the couple at their apartment in the French capital.

The couple arrested in Spain reportedly ordered Sahil's uncle by mobile telephone to come to France from Britain and lay a backpack containing the ransom money on a sidewalk in the centre of Paris and then promptly picked it up.

Several mobile phones

They then drove to their flat in Constanti, which has a large Pakistani population, where the third suspect arrested in Spain helped them remove the ransom money from their car.

Police found nearly 104,000 pounds and over 3,000 euros in the  flat as well as several mobile telephones, including one which was  used to make calls to Sahil's uncle in Paris, and a new computer.

Sahil's was taken from his grandmother's house in the town of Jhelum, about 100km south of Islamabad in the early hours of March 4, while preparing to leave with his Pakistani father to fly back to Britain.

Raja Saeed said the kidnappers stormed the house armed with guns and grenades, subjecting the family to a six-hour ordeal while he and his son were preparing to take a taxi to the airport and fly home.

Involvement denied

Relatives have vigorously denied claims that a family member could have been involved in the abduction.

British officials gave no details on exactly how Sahil had been recovered, but said he was in the care of Pakistani authorities and his uncle.

Doctors confirmed the boy was in good condition, adding that he was under police protection and accompanied by British officials.

Kidnappings of Westerners are rare in Pakistan, but abductions of locals are common.

They are often related to family quarrels, love affairs, property disputes or simple quests for money - particularly for the  wealthier victims - by criminal gangs, some of whom are connected to Islamist fighter networks.

Local media said on Tuesday that the dead body of a two-year-old Pakistani girl who was kidnapped for ransom was found near the northwestern city of Peshawar.