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American abducted by armed men in Pakistan

(Shanghai Daily)

11:31, August 14, 2011

GUNMEN abducted an American after breaking into his house in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore yesterday in an unusually brazen raid that illustrated the threat to foreigners in this militancy-wracked, US-allied country.

The US Embassy identified the victim as Warren Weinstein. A man by that name serves as the Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a development contractor that works with the aid arm of the American government, according to a profile on the LinkedIn networking website.

Pakistani police said the American was believed to be in his 60s, and had returned to Lahore the previous night from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. He had told his staff he would be wrapping up his latest project and moving out of Pakistan by tomorrow, police official Tajammal Hussain said.

The profile says Weinstein is based in Lahore and has been in Pakistan for seven years. Calls to the company headquarters in Virginia were not immediately answered, but its website describes Weinstein as a development expert with 25 years experience and a PhD in international law and economics.

The company website says Weinstein headed a program that has been trying to help strengthen the competitiveness of various Pakistani industries.

"He's a short, funny man with a quick wit," said Raza Rumi, a Pakistani journalist who last saw Weinstein about a year ago and said the American could speak a fair amount of Urdu. "He's a very laid-back guy, not too worried about security issues, not really paranoid at all."

According to Pakistani police, two of the abductors showed up at Weinstein's house and persuaded the guards there 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 suddenly appeared. The assailants, who were armed, punched and kicked the security guards, overpowering them before storming the house. Several more abductors were believed to have entered through the back of the residence. Weinstein was taken from his bedroom.

Police declined to speculate on the motive, and no group immediately claimed responsibility.

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