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Missing 12-year-old boy 'kidnapped' by man he met while playing Minecraft video game

Mirror Mirror 28/06/2016 By Jessica Haworth
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A missing 12-year-old boy was found hidden in an attic in the house of a man they believe he met on video game Minecraft .

The young boy sparked an international manhunt when he vanished from home a week ago in Solothurn, Switzerland.

He had told friends he was going to run away, but he wasn't taken seriously until he disappeared from his house.

Police searched his computer for clues and discovered he was a keen Minecraft player, and had posted his details online - including his home address and real age.

He wrote: "My hobbies are playing Minecraft and chatting with fellow players on Teamspeak."

Police believe he was in contact with the 35-year-old man from Düsseldorf, known as Werner C., whose attic he was found hidden in.

They suspect the pair were chatting over the internet before he ended up 370 miles away in Germany, after telling his parents he was going on a bike ride.

His bike was found in a neighbouring town as Swiss police joined forces to find the boy.

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He has now been found and is safe after armed police stormed the apartment. It isn't known whether he was being held against his will or not.

A police spokesman in Düsseldorf, Markus Niesczery, said they were looking into the possibility Paul was sexually abused by the German man.

They confirmed that Werner C. has a criminal record, although he only was arrested a few times for minor property crimes.

He said: "It is too early to start criminal proceedings for sexual abuse. We have already spoken intensively with Paul in the presence of his parents.

"We are getting an image of what exactly happened, but we still need to complete the investigation."

"The reunion of the boy with his parents in Düsseldorf was marked by great mutual joy. Today is a good day", said the Chief of the Criminal Police of the Swiss canton of Solothurn, Urs Bartenschlager.

The neighbours of Werner C. were completely unaware of him hiding a child in his attic.

They only noticed that the man did not want anyone to enter his apartment.

Another neighbour told local media that at times they had seen him taking children into his apartment, saying "he was just playing a little with the kids".

After the link between the kidnapper and the child was revealed, Swiss telecommunications company Swisscom issued a warning to both parents and children who they said need to be on their guard.

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A spokesman said: "Like in the real world, also virtually you need to protect yourself and be watchful.

"In precisely those games where you play as a team and have to work together, you find both youngsters and criminals taking an interest in them."

"It is important that parents talk about all the risks involved of being online with their children," concluded the Swiss telecom officer.

"You should be aware that although online 13-year old Marco is talking to you, in reality this can be 46-year old Klaus."

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