Case Of Missing Girl Sounds Alarm In Expat Community

RIYADH, 3 September 2007 — A young expatriate girl, who was picked up by the local police from the King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) last Wednesday, was released yesterday after questioning. The girl, who is a senior class student at a local Asian school, went missing last Monday from her house in mysterious circumstances.

“It is not clear why the girl was detained by the police, but it seems to be a case in which certain persons with ill intentions convinced the girl to elope with them,” said a community leader, adding that expatriate gangs are currently operating in the city, especially in downtown Batha. These gangs have allegedly been involved in kidnapping, intimidating people and collecting ransoms.

The girl, whose two sisters live outside the Kingdom, was alone at home on the day she went missing. Both her parents work in Riyadh.

The principal of the school where she studies told Arab News that “the school knew about the incident from the parents because the school was closed on Monday.”

According to sources, police briefly arrested a middle-aged foreigner in connection with the case. The man, whose identity has not been revealed, was later released. It is also not known whether the police are following other leads.

News about the sudden disappearance of the girl raised alarm in the expatriate community. Earlier, the family members and friends combed public places, markets and city districts primarily inhabited by expatriates from the Subcontinent looking for her.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old Pakistani boy, who went missing recently, has not been traced so far. Efforts by local police, the Pakistani Embassy and community volunteers have so far drawn blank.

Sam Mathew, an Indian community leader, said, “A few organized gangs are reportedly operating in Riyadh and are also involved in the abuse of children.”

Another community leader said, “The exposure of children to bad company, more liberty to teenagers and children’s friendship with elders or men and women of dubious character can lead to such social problems or even abuse and abduction…. We must provide counseling and safeguard the interests of our children.”

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