The Met Police has confirmed Bilal Safi, six, Mohammed Ebrar Safi, five, and Mohammed Yaseen Safi, three, were taken from their foster home in Coulsdon on Thursday, August 20. Scotland Yard said the incident took place at around 6pm at the home on Coulsdon Road as the youngsters were playing in the garden and their foster carer was inside the house. Specialist detectives are searching for their father Imran Safi, 26, who is said to have threatened their foster carer with a knife and used force to take the boys, who have not been seen for more than a week.
It is not yet known if their father Safi, an Afghani national, has travelled overseas and detectives are working with national and international agencies.
A police statement read: “A manhunt for Imran was immediately launched by specialist detectives from a team which leads the response to abductions.
“They have been working 24/7 out of a specialist facility to trace Imran’s movements.”
The force is also appealing for information regarding the movements of a red Nissan Qashqai car with the registration PK13 WFO.
The vehicle was seen in the Croydon area last Thursday afternoon.
Eight people who were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the abduction of the three boys have been bailed to a later date.
Met Police Commander Jon Savell confirmed more than 100 officers are working to find the three children.
Commander Savell said officers are “growing increasingly concerned about their wellbeing” but added “we do not believe at this time there is any immediate risk to their physical safety”.
In a statement, he said: “Our absolute priority at this moment in time is the welfare of these three children.
“They have been taken from a place of safety and we are growing increasingly concerned about their wellbeing, particularly as we remain in the midst of a global health crisis.
“While we do not believe at this time there is any immediate risk to their physical safety, their location, access to accommodation, healthcare, and other provisions is entirely unknown.
“We are concerned about the longer-term impact of this on all three children.
“An intense investigation into how this abduction was planned and carried out is being led by detectives in south London, alongside a manhunt being led by specialist detectives within the Met.
“More than 100 officers are currently working to locate and bring these children home safely. We are, as anyone would expect, working incredibly closely with our law enforcement partners and international colleagues to explore all lines of inquiry.
“This type of investigation is incredibly complex and fast-moving, and for good reason we often don’t speak openly about such cases.
“That is why, until this stage, we have not sought the public’s help. But we are now urging anyone who may have any information which could assist us to come forward.”
Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, commander of the South Area Basic Command Unit, added: “This incident involved the use of a weapon and violence and we are incredibly concerned for these three young, vulnerable children who are now being hidden by an individual who may be armed with a knife.
“We know there are people with detailed knowledge of the whereabouts of these children, and we fully appreciate there may be very good reasons for those individuals not wanting to come forward.
“But right now I would strongly urge them to do the right thing and assist us in locating them.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives immediately on 07942599374.