[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Sketch of Pakistan 'kidnapper' released
Police yet to establish motive behind abduction of US aid official for which no group has claimed responsibility so far.
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2011 00:04
This handout photograph released by Pakistan police shows a sketch of one of the suspects [EPA]

Five days after Warren Weinstein, an American aid expert, was abducted at gunpoint from his residence in the Pakistani city of Lahore, police have released a sketch of a man suspected of being involved in the kidnapping.

A senior police official in Lahore, capital of the central Punjab province, told Reuters on condition of anonymity,
that police had developed the sketch based on the accounts of security guards and Weinstein's driver, who had been detained for questioning.

"We have released the sketch of one of the suspects based on information received from the detained people," a senior police official in Lahore said on Thursday.

Authorities, however, said they had not uncovered the motive behind the crime for which no group has claimed responsibility so far.

"Up until now, we are treating it as a simple kidnapping case. ... We are confident we will recover him soon," Rana Sanaullah, provincial law minister who also responsible for security affairs of the province, said.

'Weinstein was spy'

Sanuallah implied that Weinstein was a spy.

"We suspect that he was involved in intelligence gathering because we offered him a police escort, deployed police at his house, but he resisted our attempts," he said.

"It gives the impression that he did not want us to keep a check on his activities and that makes it suspicious."

However, Weinstein's friends in the aid community have strenuously denied rumours he was working for any intelligence agency. A US Embassy spokeswoman also denied the charges.

In a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, up to eight assailants broke into the house of Warren Weinstein, the country director for JE Austin Associates, and abducted him after overpowering security guards.

The raid raised worries among aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners working in Pakistan, which is battling violence orchestrated by extremists, and where anti-American sentiments run very high.

The police detained a number of people, including the security guards and Weinstein's driver, for questioning after the kidnapping.

The American embassy in Pakistan has offered its forensic teams to help with investigations.

Police said the gunmen barged into house on the pretext of sharing a meal with the guards, a common practice during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which started early this month.

US-Pakistan ties

The victim, who is elderly, had been living in Pakistan for five to six years, according to police. He mostly lived in Islamabad but had been travelling to Lahore.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States have sharply deteriorated since January, when a CIA contractor killed two Pakistanis in Lahore.

It further worsened after US Navy SEALS killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a raid in northwestern Pakistan that Islamabad termed a breach of its sovereignty.

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

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

JE Austin & Associates, an Arlington, is a Virginia-based consulting firm and has been working on a development project in tribal areas where Pakistani troops have been battling anti-government fighters for years.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.