Pakistan police deny abducted American is rescued
By Richard Leiby,
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Police in Pakistan denied Thursday that an American development consultant kidnapped 12 days ago has been freed, retracting an announcement made hours earlier that an operation to rescue him was successful.
Warren Weinstein, who worked for an Arlington consulting firm, was abducted by as many as eight gunmen from his home in the eastern city of Lahore in a pre-dawn raid on Aug. 13.
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said they were unable to confirm the reports of the rescue.
Pakistani television and the Associated Press initially reported that Weinstein, 70, was found in Khushab, a city about 120 miles from Lahore. Police in Khushab said they were not aware of any rescue operation in the district.
“According to my information, no such operation has been carried out here, or at least the police department in Khushab is totally unaware if an operation to recover [Weinstein] was carried out here,” said Khushad district’s top police official, Imran Mehmood.
Lahore police chief Malik Ahmed Raza was quoted by the AP as telling reporters earlier Thursday that three suspects in the abduction were arrested in an early morning operation. But within hours, he inexplicably denied that he had confirmed anything, and told reporters summoned to his office that a rescue did not take place.
Weinstein, who suffers from heart problems and asthma, worked for the past six years on aid projects in the dangerous, insurgent-filled tribal areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan.
Married with two adult daughters, Weinstein, who has a home in Rockville, worked for J.E. Austin Associates, a consulting firm working with Pakistani businesses and the government. In an earlier statement, the company said his work created hundreds of jobs and raised living standards for Pakistanis.
No militant group has publicly claimed responsibility for the abduction, and there have been no reported ransom demands.
Special correspondent Aoun Abbas Sahi in Lahore contributed to this report.