Three family members of 10-year-old Sara Sharif, who was found dead in her Surrey home, have been arrested on suspicion of murder after arriving on a flight from Dubai.
Urfan Sharif, the father of Sara, his partner Beinash Batool and brother Faisal Malik travelled to Islamabad in Pakistan a day before police discovered her body in Woking on August 10.
A post-mortem examination found the youngster had suffered “multiple and extensive injuries” over a “sustained and extended” period of time.
The three arrived at Gatwick airport at just after 7.30pm on Wednesday on an Emirates flight from Sialkot, in eastern Punjab province, via Dubai, before police swooped in and took them away for questioning in connection with Sara’s death.
Surrey Police said: “Two men, aged 41 years and 28 years, and a woman, aged 29 years, were arrested on suspicion of murder after disembarking a flight from Dubai.
“They are currently in custody and will be interviewed in due course.
“Sara’s mother has been informed of this latest update and is being supported by specialist officers. Our thoughts remain with her and those affected by Sara’s death at this very difficult time.
“This has been an extremely fast-moving, challenging and complex enquiry and we remain absolutely committed to conducting a thorough investigation into Sara’s death.
“We will not be commenting any further at this point and will provide further updates as and when we are able to.”
Sialkot police spokesperson Khan Mudassir said the three were handed over to the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency.
Five of Sara’s siblings, aged between one and 13 years old, travelled to the South Asian country on August 9 with Mr Sharif, Ms Batool and Mr Malik.
Surrey Police said on Tuesday officers are working to secure the safe return of the children after a court ruled they would be temporarily moved to a government childcare facility.
The children were taken from the home of Sara’s grandfather Muhammad Sharif in a police raid at his property in Jhelum, Pakistan, on Monday, before later being returned.
Witness accounts from the scene said officers broke CCTV cameras at the property, stopped traffic and prevented passers-by from filming the incident.
The children were carried by family members into court for around 40 minutes on Tuesday before being moved to another court as authorities tried to decide on their next steps, the BBC reported.
Sara’s grandfather Mr Sharif told the BBC he had been hiding the children in his home, but did not specify for how long.
Last week, Sara’s stepmother Ms Batool spoke publicly for the first time since the girl was found dead.
In a clip of the footage posted online by Sky, Ms Batool described Sara’s death as “an incident” and said she and Mr Sharif are willing to co-operate with UK authorities over the case.
It came after Sara’s mother Olga Sharif gave an interview to the Polish television programme Uwaga! in which she spoke of the harrowing experience of going to view her daughter’s body.
She said: “One of her cheeks was swollen and the other side was bruised.
“Even now, when I close my eyes I can see what my baby looked like.”
Ms Sharif separated from her husband in 2015 and Sara and her older brother had been living with her until 2019, when the family court ruled they should live with their father.
Ms Sharif still had equal rights to see the children and said that while that was easy to maintain initially, it became harder over time.
Sara’s grandfather Muhammad Sharif previously told the BBC the girl’s death was an “accident”.
Muhammad Sharif said he saw Sara’s father soon after he arrived in the city of Jhelum, in the South Asian country, and that his son had fled the UK out of “fear”.