Police have arrested a thirteenth person following the abduction of three young boys by their father from a south London foster home.
An urgent manhunt is under way for Imran Safi, 26, who is said to have snatched his sons Bilal, six, Mohammed Ebrar, five, and three-year-old Mohammed Yaseen Safi at knifepoint last Thursday.
Safi is suspected of threatening the brothers’ foster carer and using force to take the youngsters, who have not been seen since.
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 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 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 with information is asked to contact police immediately on 07942 599374.