Portuguese police say missing British girl may have been abducted

Portuguese police say missing British girl may have been abducted
5 May 2007
Associated Press Newswires
LISBON, Portugal

Portuguese police and crime investigators believe a 3-year-old British girl who went missing from a luxury resort in southern Portugal may have been abducted, officials said Saturday.

"We have evidence which indicates a kidnap," police spokesman Guilhermino Encarnacao told a news conference. Encarnacao said investigators had "a profile" for a suspect, but he declined to give details "to safeguard the child's life." Encarnacao appealed for the return of the child. "Bring her back just as she is, because you're still in time," he said.

Senior regional official Antonio Pina told government news agency Lusa that Portuguese police were fully deployed and operating with "absolute coordination" in a search for the toddler. Pina said police equipped with search dogs had patrolled the area around the holiday resort from which the girl, Madeleine McCann, went missing late Thursday. Pina said the verges of a local road linking the resort to a nearby beach in Lagos had also been searched.

Around 150 agents were investigating in Portugal and were in contact with British police, Europol, Interpol and other European entities.

Three British police agents arrived from Leicestershire on Saturday to help with investigations, British ambassador John Buck said in a statement.

By Friday, police had received 30,000 telephone calls, Encarnacao said, adding that airports throughout Europe had been supplied with identification details.

The girl's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, made an impassioned plea Friday for their daughter's return. "Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister," Gerry McCann said, with his wife at his side. "We cannot describe the anguish and despair we are feeling as parents of our beautiful daughter Madeleine," he said. "We request that anyone with any information relating to Madeleine's disappearance, no matter how trivial, contact the Portuguese police and help us get her back safely."

Madeleine had been staying with her family at Praia da Luz, a coastal town 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Lisbon. She went missing when her parents were at dinner in the resort.

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