A Pakistani police official who had claimed that an abducted American national was freed in the city of Khushab, northwest of Lahore, retracted his statement within an hour and said he could not confirm or deny that the American was free.
Warren Weinstein, 70, was kidnapped on Aug. 13 from his Lahore residence after the abductors gained entry into his house and took him away at around 4 am.
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, Khushad district's top police official, Imran Mehmood, was quoted by Washington Post as saying.
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.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it does not have any evidence of the American's recovery. We have no information that would confirm recovery of Warren Weinstein, but we are hoping for a positive outcome, the U.S. embassy said on Twitter.
Weinstein was working as the Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a development contractor, on a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Shortly before his abduction, he announced plans to return to the United States this week after successfully completing the project.
U.S. relations with Pakistan have been strained since Raymond Davis, a contractor working for the Central Intelligence Agency, killed two men in February on a Lahore Street.
Relations were also strained when U.S. Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2. Pakistan officials were upset they had not been informed in advance of the raid.
In its recent travel advisory for the South Asian country, the U.S. State Department warned that the presence of al-Qaeda, Taliban militants and local sectarian groups in Pakistan posed a potential danger to U.S. citizens.
The kidnapping of Pakistani citizens and other foreign nationals, usually for ransom, continues to increase dramatically nationwide, it said.