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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Mohammed Anwar grocer was kidnapped at gunpoint in Pakistan by crooks who demanded a £50,000 ransom.

grocer was kidnapped at gunpoint in Pakistan by crooks who demanded a £50,000 ransom. The gang threatened to kill dad-of-five Mohammed Anwar, 64, if the cash wasn't paid within two days. But Mohammed was freed after several terrifying days in captivity and is now back home with his family in Glasgow. A relative told the Record last night: "He's been through two weeks of hell. When you talk about what happened he starts shaking. "The family were in total shock. They were going out of their minds with worry." Mohammed was abducted on Tuesday, January 27, by armed men who walked into a relative's home in the Punjabi city of Sadikabad. A local man, the son of his brother-in-law, was also taken. The Record found out about the kidnap within hours but agreed not to print the story while Mohammed was still a hostage. Police believe the decision helped safeguard his life. A family source said: "Mohammed had been in Pakistan for a few weeks, visiting relatives. "He was approached out of the blue by an armed mob who marched him away at gunpoint. They demanded the equivalent of £50,000 by the Thursday or they would shoot both men."
Hours after Mohammed was abducted, Strathclyde cops were with his family at their flat in Glasgow's west end. The Scots force went on to play a major role in the struggle to free him. A "significant number" of officers were assigned to the case.
The kidnappers made demands to the family by telephone. Police camped out at the flat and sources say the phones were tapped. Officers from Strathclyde's Major Crime and Terrorism Investigation Unit worked closely with cops in the Punjab and gave the family round-the-clock support. Delicate negotiations began between the kidnappers, the Pakistani authorities and Strathclyde Police Serious Crime Squad. The family insider said: "It was unbelievably tense as they waited for news." But the terror of Mohammed's wife and children turned to joy when they got the news that he and his relative had been freed. It is understood the family paid a five-figure ransom but this has not been confirmed. Mohammed flew home this week and was reunited with wife Balkish, daughters Soraya, 39, Kishwar, 26 and Ishorat, 23, and sons Shahid, 30, and Zahid 29. His brother, Mohammed Salim, said: "It's not a small thing he's been through - he's been through two weeks of hell." Asked about the ransom, Mr Salim said: "I can't talk about that at all just now." Mr Salim said Mohammed was "in trauma" and depressed. But despite his ordeal, he has been back at work at KRK Continental grocers in Woodlands, Glasgow. A friend said: "He's a popular and well-known part of the community. We're very pleased that he is back and safe."
Mohammed worked full-time at KRK from 1979 to 1992 before leaving to set up on his own as a butcher. He later sold his business and is now semi-retired but still helps out at KRK from time to time. Mr Salim thanked the Record for not reporting the story during the kidnap. And Detective Superintendent Colin Field, of the major crime and terror unit, said: "I'm grateful to the Record and its journalists for their level of understanding and co-operation." He said Mohammed's life would have been at greater risk if the kidnappers had learned from press reports that police were involved in the case. Mohammed's ordeal has raised fears that more Scots Asians, who are considered wealthy in Pakistan, could be targeted by kidnappers while visiting relatives. The Anwar family's local councillor in Glasgow, Hanzala Malik, said: "Pakistan is feeling the pinch economically and teetering on the edge politically. "When people find themselves in situations like that, the unfortunate fact is that some will turn to crime." 'The family were in total shock. They were out of their minds with worry'



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