'Syria-bound' family held in Turkey

Asif Malik and Sara Kiran Image copyright Thames Valley Police handouts

A British couple believed to have been en route to Syria with their four children are being held in Turkey, a Turkish official has told the BBC.

Sara Kiran, 29, and Asif Malik, 31, are in police custody in Ankara with their children, all aged seven and under.

The pair were arrested at a hotel in the Turkish capital after crossing into the country from Greece.

The family, from Slough, Berkshire, was reported missing on 16 April. Relatives had appealed for their safe return.

An official from the Turkish prime minister's office told the BBC a deportation procedure had started and could take a couple of days.

She said the Turkish police had been informed about the missing family on 19 April.

Thames Valley Police said it had not received confirmation the couple had been detained but they were "working with the Turkish authorities to safeguard the family".

'No notice'

The family left Slough on 7 April without mentioning any travel plans to relatives and boarded a ferry from Dover to Calais at 00:30 BST on 8 April.

Officers believe they travelled through Europe, possibly by train, and passed through Budapest, Hungary, on or around 12 April.

Police said on Sunday that online rhetoric from Islamic State (IS), the family's direction of travel, and concerns voiced by relatives, made officers "concerned" that they were heading for Syria.

At a press conference on Sunday, Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell had stressed police were conducting a missing persons' inquiry - not a criminal investigation.

In a statement, Ms Kiran's family 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."

Mr Malik's family issued this statement: "With the reality that our loved one Asif Malik and his family have left the UK without any notice, our lives have been completely devastated.

"We are totally distraught, upset and in shock. The greatest sadness is the decision by Asif and Sara to travel with their young family, such beautiful children."

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