• UAE Editorial

Man arrested over abduction of three boys from south London

Scotland Yard has issued an urgent appeal to find Bilal, Momammed Ebrar and Mohammed Yassen Safi. Metropolitan Police/PA

A 31-year-old man has been arrested in east London in connection with the abduction of three young children by their father.

The Metropolitan police said the total number of arrests related to the case over the past five days now stood at 13, as officers hunt for Imran Safi, 26, and his sons.

Safi is believed to have snatched the youngsters – Bilal, six, Mohammed Ebrar, five, and Mohammed Yaseen, three – from their foster carer at knifepoint last Thursday in Coulsdon. Neither the children nor their father have been seen since the incident.

Four men aged between 21 and 41, who were arrested on Friday morning on suspicion of being involved in the abduction, have been released on bail. They are believed to be known to the suspect and were all arrested at a property in Ilford in south-east London.

In a statement, the Met said: “Officers arrested the 31-year-old man at a residential address in Ilford on Saturday, 29 August, on suspicion of conspiracy to abduct a child. He currently remains in custody at a south London police station.

“The four men previously arrested on Friday, 28 August at an address in Ilford were subsequently released and are due to return on bail to a south London police station on a date in early September.”

Eight other people – relatives and friends of Safi – have also 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.

The brothers were taken from the garden of an address in Croydon on the evening of 20 August while their carer was inside. The carer said Safi threatened her with a knife before forcibly taking the boys and driving off with them.

It is not yet known if Safi, an Afghan national with links to Pakistan, has left the country, but detectives are working with national and international agencies to investigate any travel. An all-ports alert was issued shortly after they were taken and more than 30 calls have been received from the public since Thursday afternoon.

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

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