Lahore

Twelve heavily armed suspected Taliban militants barged into the residence of an American national and kidnapped him in the wee hours on Saturday after overpowering his guards in Pakistans Punjab provincial capital.

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bout a dozen armed men entered the house of Warren Weinstein in Block J of Model Town neighbourhood at 3: 30 am and took him away after overpowering his four guards, police spokesman Niyab Haider Naqvi told PTI. The kidnappers bundled Weinstein into a vehicle and took him to an unknown location, Naqvi said.

Other officials, who did not want to be identified, said they suspected the Tehrik- e- Taliban Pakistan was behind the abduction.

US Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez confirmed that an American citizen had been kidnapped but declined to identify him. ” He was working for a private company. We are working with Pakistani authorities on the issue,” Rodriguez said. Security guards at the Americans residence were preparing for alt39 sehrialt39, the pre- dawn meal in the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, when the kidnappers struck. The abductors assaulted the guards and tied them up before taking Weinstein away.

The guards told police that the kidnappers were masked. The abductors remained at the house for about 10 minutes and did not speak to the guards, police officials said.

Weinstein, believed to be in his sixties, was the country head of J E Austin Associates, a US- based consulting firm, and was working on a development project in Pakistans volatile tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

He had been living in Pakistan for the past six to seven years. He mostly lived in Islamabad and often travelled to Lahore.

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