Four more arrested over missing brothers snatched from foster home at knifepoint

28 August 2020, 20:36

Safi is suspected of threatening the brothers' foster carer at knifepoint
Safi is suspected of threatening the brothers' foster carer at knifepoint. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Four further arrests have been made by detectives investigating the abduction of three brothers by their father who took them at knifepoint, the Metropolitan Police said.

An urgent manhunt is underway for Imran Safi, 26, who is said to have snatched his sons Bilal, six, Mohammed Ebrar, five, and three-year-old Mohammed Yaseen Safi, from a foster home in south London last Thursday.

Safi is suspected of threatening the brothers' foster carer at knifepoint and using force to take the youngsters, who have not been seen since.

Four men aged between 21 and 41 were arrested at a property in Ilford, east London, on Friday morning on suspicion of being involved in the abduction, Scotland Yard said.

They are believed to be known to the suspect and have been taken to a south London police station for questioning.

Eight people - relatives and friends of Safi - have already been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the abduction and were bailed to a later date.

It is understood that the boys were shortly due to be formally adopted by a new family, which detectives believe could be a motive for the abduction.

Their father Imran Safi is accused of threatening their foster carer at knifepoint to snatch them
Their father Imran Safi is accused of threatening their foster carer at knifepoint to snatch them. Picture: Met Police
Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Red Nissan Qashqai believed to have been used in the abduction
Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Red Nissan Qashqai believed to have been used in the abduction. Picture: PA

The three brothers were playing in the garden of Coulsdon House in Croydon while their foster carer was inside at around 6pm on August 20.

The foster mother heard footsteps and became aware of Safi, who she said was armed with a knife and threatened her before forcibly taking the boys and driving off.

More than 100 officers are searching for the children and it is not yet known if their father, who is an Afghan national and has links to Pakistan, has travelled overseas.

Although Safi was not said to have access to their passports, police believe it is possible the children have been taken abroad due to a lack of sightings since their disappearance.

Detectives are working with national and international agencies to identify any travel to a foreign country and an all-ports alert was issued shortly after they were taken.

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer said officers are following up information from 30 calls from the public since Thursday afternoon.

He said: "Whilst this development has brought us one step closer to finding Imran and the three children, we still need more information from the public to help us locate them.

"I would really urge anyone from the Croydon, and now Ilford, area to think long and hard about if they saw these children, or their father, the evening of Thursday August 20 and possibly the morning of Friday August 21."

Scotland Yard is also appealing for information on the movements of a red Nissan Qashqai car, registration PK13 WFO, throughout last Thursday afternoon in the Croydon area.

Anyone who may have information regarding the vehicle, or believes they have seen Safi and the three boys since August 20, is asked to contact detectives immediately on 07942 599374.

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