THREE brothers who were abducted from Croydon are believed to be abroad after being taken by their father.

Imran Safi threatened a foster carer with a knife last month and took sons Bilal, Mohammed Ebrar and Mohammed Yaseen.

The Met Police is now offering a £20,000 reward to help find them and have so far made 16 arrests.

This afternoon, detectives made their 16th arrest in a desperate search to locate the young boys.

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But despite extensive operational and forensic work, police have not been able to identify the man, who was sat in the front passenger seat as the car made

off from the abduction.

The red Nissan was photographed travelling down Malpit Road, Coulsdon, towards Coulsdon Central shortly after the abduction.

Detectives hope the reward will help trace the man in the car. He is described as a bearded man and was believed to be wearing a stripy jumper in the car.

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Commander Bas Javid, said: "We believe that Safi and the children have most likely left the UK, but our investigation continues and we will continue to do everything we can to locate the children and arrest Safi.

"Our working theory is that they have left via a clandestine route, but to where? We remain unsure, and that is why we need people across the country, and abroad to share this appeal for information.

“I can’t imagine how distressing this whole situation has been for the three young boys, who have been taken away from their safe environment, and our efforts to locate Imran Safi continues.

Commander Javid, continued: "We appreciate that the image is not the clearest quality but we still need people to really study it and see if the man in the picture is one that they may recognise.

“The focus of this operation is returning these innocent children to the UK which is our top priority. We hope that offering this reward will lead to some significant information being passed to us.”

A number of people have been arrested as part of this investigation:

[A] A 25-year-old woman and [B] a 32-year-old man were arrested in Kenley on Friday, 21 August.

Three men – two aged 20 [C] and [D] and one aged 17 [E] - were arrested in Croydon on Sunday, 23 August.

[F] A 25-year-old woman and [G] a 37-year-old man were arrested in Kenley on Tuesday, 25 August.

[H] A 33-year-old man was arrested in Croydon on Tuesday, 25 August.

[A] – [H] have been bailed to return to a south London police station at a later date.

Four men - aged between 21 and 41 [I], [J], [K] and [L] were arrested at an address in Ilford in the early hours of Friday, 28 August. All four have been further bailed to return to a south London police station in late November.

[M] A 31-year-old man was arrested at a residential address in Ilford on Saturday, 29 August. He has since been released under investigation.

[N] A 17-year-old male was arrested at an address on Connaught Road in Bristol. He was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the abduction and has since been released on bail.

[O] A 45-year-old man was arrested at Heathrow Airport on Thursday, 10 September for conspiracy to kidnap. He was taken to a south London police station and has been bailed pending further enquiries.

[P] A 30-year-old was arrested at an address on High Street in Thornton Heath on Tuesday, 29 September on suspicion of conspiracy to kidnap and possession of an offensive weapon. He has been taken to a south London police station.

Police continue to appeal for dashcam footage.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Imran Safi or the three children is urged to call the incident room on 07942599374.