Missing Bristol 15-year-old girl in Turkey ‘could be heading to Syria’

Detectives fear teenager may have been radicalised

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The Independent Online

Police say a 15-year-old girl who has gone missing from Bristol could be travelling towards Syria amid fears she "may have been radicalised”.

The teenager, who was reported missing from her home last week, is known to be in Turkey and detectives say she may now be heading for its war-town neighbour.

Local councillor Hibaq Jama said the teenager had left for school as usual on the morning of her disappearance but was not there when her father went to collect her that afternoon.

Her family are "absolutely devastated", she said, adding: "They are distraught."

Ms Jama issued an appeal on behalf of the girl’s family, which said: "Please come back. We miss you very much. You are not in any trouble. We just want you to be safe and to come home as soon as possible."

Louisa Rolfe, assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, confirmed a 15-year-old student has travelled to Turkey and may be heading towards Syria.

In a statement, Ms Rolfe said: "Since she was reported missing by her parents we've carried out extensive work to trace her footsteps from the time she left home to her arrival in Istanbul, Turkey.

"We're giving every support we can to her family; we want to find out where she is and encourage her to return safely.

"Our officers are working closely with the Metropolitan Police and their network of international liaison officers to find her.

"There are indications she may have been radicalised but at the moment our priority is to find her before she crosses the border to Syria and make sure she is safe.

"Often, young Muslims who go to Syria hold can be naive and don't recognise that they are being sucked into joining extremist groups.

"This is not about criminalising these young people, it's about preventing tragedies."

Additional reporting by Press Association