A manhunt has been launched for a father who abducted his three young sons at knifepoint while they were playing in their garden at their foster home in south London.
Imran Safi, 26, has not been seen since taking the boys – Bilal, six, Ebrar, five, and three-year-old Yaseen – from the property in the Coulsdon Road area on Thursday last week.
Police say Mr Safi, an Afghan national who has links to Pakistan, may have taken the three boys out of the country.
They also believe the abduction could have been a planned event, with a “strong possibility” that the children were being harboured by friends, family or associates of Mr Safi.
It is understood that the three boys were due to be formally adopted in the near future, which could have been a trigger for the incident.
Appealing for information, detectives from Scotland Yard said there was no reason to believe there is any immediate risk of physical harm for the boys, but added that they were concerned for their welfare.
Police say the incident took place at around 6pm on August 20 when Mr Safi arrived at the foster mother’s home, armed with a knife, while the children were playing in the garden, and attacked her.
After threatening her, he took the children away “using force”. The foster mother sustained minor injuries and was left shaken, detectives said.
Commander Jon Savell said hundreds of officers had been working around the clock to find the boys.
“There have been an enormous amount of police resources trying to find Imran and the three boys,” he said.
“We have followed a lot of lines of inquiry that we were hoping would secure the safe return. Our priority is to get the three boys back safely.”
He said it was “highly unusual” to have found no trace of the children in that time.
Police say there is a possibility the children may have been taken abroad.
Mr Safi’s image and details have been circulated to all ports and borders and detectives are working closely with national and international agencies to ensure any movement into foreign countries is identified.
However, there is also the chance that the children could still be in London.
Scotland Yard said it is not known how long he has been in the country but has indefinite leave to remain. The boy’s mother is in the UK and has been in contact with police, they said.
Eight people have been arrested, all of whom who are either family members or associates of Mr Safi. All have been released on bail.
Police are appealing for information over a red Nissan Qashqai vehicle, registration PK13 WFO, which was seen driving in the area. The vehicle is a red Nissan
Anyone with a dash-cam who may have noticed a vehicle of this description in the timeframe outlined is asked to check their footage for sightings. Similarly, anyone who may have seen a vehicle matching this description driving in an unusual manner in the local area should get in contact with officers who are working hard to trace the vehicle’s movements.