British police are trying to track three schoolgirls feared to have run away from home with plans to enter Syria. The girls were last seen on Tuesday morning as they left their homes, telling their families they would be out for the day.
They then travelled to Gatwick Airport together and boarded Turkish Airlines flight TK1966, which touched down in Istanbul at 12.40pm that afternoon.
Two of the girls have been named as 15-year-old Shamima Begum and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana. A third girl aged 15 has not been named by Scotland Yard.
Police fear the girls, all students at Bethnal Green Academy in east London, may be travelling to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria.
Commander Richard Walton from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command has said: “We are extremely concerned for the safety of these young girls and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to police. Our priority is the safe return of these girls to their families.
“We are reaching out to the girls using the Turkish media and social media in the hope that Shamima, Kadiza and their friend hear our messages, hear our concerns for their safety and have the courage to return to their families who are so worried about them.
“We are concerned about the numbers of girls and young women who have or are intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State.
“It is an extremely dangerous place and we have seen reports of what life is like for them and how restricted their lives become. It is not uncommon for girls or women to be prevented from being allowed out of their houses or if allowed out, only when accompanied by a guardian.”