A 31-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the abduction of three young brothers from their foster home.
An urgent manhunt remains under way for Imran Safi, 26, who is said to have snatched his sons Bilal, six, Ebrar, five, and three-year-old Yaseen Safi last Thursday.
Detectives arrested the 31-year-old at an address in Ilford today on conspiracy to abduct a child.
It brings the total number of arrests in connection with the abduction to 13 in five days.
The man remains in custody at a south London police station.
A 31-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the abduction of Bilal, 6, Ebrar, 5, and Yaseen Safi, 3, by their father from their foster home in Coulsdon, south London
Four men aged between 21 and 41 who were arrested yesterday at an address in Ilford have been released, with all due to return on bail in early September.
They four were arrested on suspicion of being involved in abduction of the Safi brothers, and are thought to be known to the suspect, Imran Safi.
It is understood that the three children were due to be formally adopted by a new family, which detectives believe could be a motive for the abduction.
Neighbours have told how the children’s foster mother has moved out of her home out of fear Safi may return and attack her following the harrowing abduction.
A local resident said the next door neighbours are ‘shocked and scared’, living in fear he could come back.
‘The foster mother hasn’t gone back to her own home for fear of that,’ she added.
Police are hunting Imran Safi, 26, after he burst into his children’s foster home in Coulsdon, south London and assaulted their carer and threatened her wife a knife
It also emerged today that the fugitive was evicted from his former home a year ago because the children were always crying, according to his former landlord.
The three boys’ disappearance, last Thursday, has sparked a major investigation involving more than 100 police officers.
It is believed that the children were due to be adopted and Safi ‘may have found out’ and decided to act before they were moved.
Detectives fear the children may already be abroad, despite having circulated their father’s mugshot and details to all ports and borders as they attempt to close off escape routes.
But, Met Police Commander Jon Savell added: ‘They may well be somewhere stashed away in the London area or elsewhere.’
The children were grabbed a week ago as they played in the garden of their foster home in Coulsdon, south London, with Safi whisking them away in a red Nissan despite the desperate efforts of their foster mother.
The Met is continuing to appeal for any sightings on the afternoon of Thursday, 20 August of a red Nissan Qashqai, registration PK13 WFO, in the Croydon area – particularly along Coulsdon Road.
The vehicle itself has now been located.
Police have refused to reveal why the children were in care and would only confirm that their mother is ‘in the country’.
Safi, who has family links to Pakistan, fled with the boys in a Nissan Qashqai at around 6pm last Thursday. They have not been seen since, but the car was recovered from the west Croydon area
Safi, who has family links to Pakistan, fled with the boys in a Nissan Qashqai at around 6pm last Thursday. They have not been seen since, but the car was recovered from the west Croydon area.
A local resident, who requested not to be named, said: ‘It’s a tragic, catastrophic event. It’s absolutely terrible.
Police said the children’s foster mother, who was assaulted and threatened at knifepoint in the abduction, was not injured but was ‘understandably distressed.’
Safi’s former landlord revealed to MailOnline he evicted the shop worker from his old flat in Croydon after neighbours complained of constant shouting and hearing ‘children crying’.
Safi lived with his wife and three boys in a two-bedroom flat in Croydon but was evicted by bailiffs last April.
The landlord, Sudki Yousif, told MailOnline: ‘I took him to the county court in Croydon twice and eventually won a court order to have him evicted.
‘The problem was the noise his family were making. I also own the neighbouring flats and the residents were complaining about shouting and the children crying all the time.
‘I told Safi about the issue but nothing was ever done about it. He and his family continued to make a lot of noise so I had no choice but to get him forcibly removed by the bailiffs.
‘Why the children were always crying, I can’t tell you and I don’t know if they were removed into care from that flat.
‘But I’m shocked to see Safi being hunted by police for abducting his children at knifepoint. I don’t remember him as an aggressive man, he seemed to me to be quite calm and quiet.
‘He ran a couple of mobile phone shops in the centre of Croydon with some of his relatives.
‘His wife was a tall woman, also Afghan I believe.
‘They were my tenants for nearly two years and when they first moved in, I was only aware of one child, their eldest son Bilal.
‘They had a few more children during their time in the flat but although it’s only two bedroom it’s quite a spacious home.
‘They always paid the rent on time so I had no issue with money, it was just the noise problem.’
It comes as Safi’s former landlord revealed to MailOnline he evicted the shop worker from his old flat in Croydon after neighbours complained of constant shouting and hearing ‘children crying’ (stock photo)
Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Commander of the South Area Basic Command Unit, said: ‘Whilst this is a fast-paced and developing investigation, we still need more information from the public to help us locate the children and their father.
‘Over the 48 hours since we first appealed for help on the afternoon of Thursday, 27 August, we have received around 40 calls from members of the public to our control room and via Crimestoppers.
‘These calls are now being followed up by my officers who continue to work all hours of the day to bring these children home safely.
‘I would really urge anyone from the Croydon and Ilford areas to think long and hard about whether they saw these children, or their father, on the evening of Thursday, 20 August and possibly the morning of Friday, 21 August.’
Anyone who may have information regarding the vehicle, or believes they have seen Safi and the three boys since August 20, is asked to contact detectives immediately on 07942 599374.