POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 3:48 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2011
ISLAMABAD » Gunmen abducted an American man after raiding his home in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Saturday, Pakistani officials said, an unusually brazen attack on a foreigner in a country where kidnappings are believed to help fund Islamist militant movements.
Some eight to 10 men were believed to be involved in the abduction, police official Attiqur Rehman said. Two of them convinced guards at the American’s home to open the gate by saying they wanted to give them food — an act of sharing common during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started in August.
As the guards opened the gate, five other men appeared and stormed the scene. Some of the abductors were also believed to have entered through the backside of the house to help snatch the American.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez confirmed the abduction and said the American worked for a private company in Lahore.
Kidnappings — especially those carried out for ransom — have been a growing crime in Pakistan in recent years, as the economy has sunk and security conditions have deteriorated.
Most of the victims are Pakistani. Some foreigners have occasionally been targeted but it is extremely unusual for the assailants to stage such a raid on a victim’s home.
Although most abductions are believed to be carried out by criminal gangs, the trade is also believed to help fund militant groups such as the Taliban.
Earlier this summer, two people from Switzerland were kidnapped in the southwest, and the Pakistani Taliban claim they are holding them in the northwestern tribal regions along the Afghan border.
American activities in Lahore are an especially sensitive topic.
In January in Lahore, American CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot dead two Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him. A third Pakistani was killed when a backup vehicle sped to the scene to try to help Davis.
The incident deeply damaged the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, as the Americans claimed diplomatic immunity for Davis but Pakistan refused to release him. Ultimately, Davis was freed and returned to the U.S. in exchange for compensation to the victims’ families.