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'Syria-bound' family held in Turkey

Published 20/04/2015

Handout photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Essa and Zoha Malik (left)
Handout photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Essa and Zoha Malik (left)
Handout CCTV image issued by Thames Valley Police of the Malik family in Dover on April 7
Handout photo issued by Thames Valley Police of Zakariya Malik
Handout CCTV image issued by Thames Valley Police of the Malik family in Dover

A British Muslim couple feared to be heading to Syria with their four young children have been arrested in Turkey.

Asif Malik, 31, and his partner Sara Kiran, 29, were held in the capital Ankara today, an official told the Associated Press. Their four children, all aged under seven, were also taken into custody.

The family from Slough, Berks, were seen boarding a ferry from Dover to Calais on April 8.

Ms Kiran's family made an emotional appeal earlier for her to get in touch, saying "we miss you".

In a statement released by Thames Valley Police, they said: "Sara, we want to let you know that we love you; we miss you, Asif and the grandchildren. You are not in trouble, we are not angry or upset, and we just want you to return home safely."

The couple have a seven-year-old daughter named Zoha Malik, and sons Essa, four, Zakariya, two, and Yhaya, one.

Police have stressed that their disappearance is still a missing persons inquiry, but were deeply concerned that the direction of travel appeared to be towards Syria where brutal jihadi group Islamic State (Isil) is fighting to establish a Muslim caliphate.

Thames Valley Police officers think the group caught the 12.30am ferry from Dover 12 days ago, and might have travelled across Europe by train and through Budapest on or around Sunday April 12. The family were reported missing on April 16.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are urgently looking into reports that six British nationals have been arrested in Turkey. We stand ready to provide consular assistance."

Thames Valley Police confirmed they understand the family have been found in Turkey.

In a statement, the force said: " Thames Valley Police understand that they have been detained by the Turkish authorities today but is awaiting confirmation.

"We are working with the Turkish authorities to safeguard the family.

"The force would like to thank the media and the public for their assistance."

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