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Slough father 'wanted to live in a Muslim country'

CCTV pictures of Malik with two of his children in Dover on 7 April. Credit: Thames Valley Police

A father believed to have travelled to Syria with his partner and children had told relatives he wanted to "live in a Muslim country", police have revealed.

Asked whether Asif Malik, 31, had wanted to live in a caliphate state, Thames Valley Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell responded: "I didn't say that - I said a Muslim country."

Campbell insisted that the search is currently a missing persons inquiry, adding that while the force was concerned the family appeared to be heading for Syria, "I'm not suggesting they're intending to join [Islamic State]".

An anonymous friend of Malik told ITV News he "seemed harmless to me" and said he was "shocked" by the claims that the family may have gone to Syria.


Cameron and Clegg set for coalition cup clash

It is unclear whether Cameron and Clegg plan to watch the game together. Credit: PA

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are set for a footballing showdown just three weeks after the General Election, with both leaders' teams facing off in the FA Cup final.

After today's shock semi-final win over Liverpool, the Prime Minister, an Aston Villa fan, tweeted his congratulations to his team.

The victory means Villa will play Nick Clegg's favoured side, Arsenal, at Wembley on 30 May - by which point it will be clear whether the PM and his deputy are still political colleagues.

UN: 1600 die attempting to reach Europe by boat this year

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that should today's figures be confirmed, then so far in 2015 1,600 people have died attempting to reach Europe by boat.

Number of asylum seekers arrived by boat to southern Europe in 2015/UNHCR
Number of asylum seekers who have died in 2015/UNHCR

In 2014, tens of thousands made the dangerous trip, thousands of whom were rescued by Italian authorities, but many thousands died during their journey.

Number of asylum seekers who arrived by boat to southern Europe in 2014/UNHCR
Number of asylum seekers who died attempting to reach Europe by boat in 2014/UNHCR

Hammond: World is horrified at Mediterranean tragedy

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said he will discuss building a "co-ordinated" response to the latest migrant boat tragedy with EU ministers tomorrow in Luxemberg. In a statement issued through the Foreign Office, he said:

The world is horrified at the appalling loss of life that it is taking place in the Mediterranean and rightly angered by the cynicism of the criminal gangs who are profiting from this people-trade.

My sympathies go out to those who have lost relatives and friends and to all who are caught up in this vile trade. Stopping this needless suffering is a huge international challenge which demands a comprehensive, co-ordinated response.

We must target the traffickers who are responsible for so many people dying at sea and prevent their innocent victims from being tricked or forced into making these perilous journeys.

I discussed ideas for effective action with G7 Foreign Ministers last week and will do so again with EU Foreign Ministers at our meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow.

– Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary


Family of six 'on way Syria' pictured at Calais

The Malik family - Asif and Sara, along with their children Zoha, Malik, Zakariva and Yahya. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Police have released new pictures of the family of six from Slough who are believed are on their way to Syria.

It is believed Asif Malik and Sara Kiran, along with their four children aged between one and seven travelled from Dover to Calais before travelling south through Europe by train.

The family were last seen in England on April Credit: Thames Valley Police.

Police are stressing it is still a missing persons inquiry, but are deeply concerned the direction of travel appears to be towards Syria where brutal jihadi group Islamic State (Isil) are fighting to establish a Muslim caliphate.

Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell said: "I think its legitimate for us to hope for the best, but fear for the worst."

Italy PM: Don't leave us to deal with migrant crisis alone

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaking following the disaster. Credit: APTV

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has urged other European countries not to leave his country alone in dealing with the increasing number of migrants being trafficked across the Mediterranean.

Speaking after a shipwreck which is estimated to have left hundreds of people dead, Renzi said Italy often works alone in saving migrants by both blocking trafficking from Libya and rescuing those that are left stranded at sea.

UN: Mediterranean boat tragedy may be biggest ever

The United Nations Refugee Agency is calling for urgent action after the most recent Mediterranean boat disaster in which hundreds of people are feared dead.

It appears that only 50 of the 700 people reported to be on board have been rescued by Italian and Maltese authorities. Approximately 20 vessels are helping in the search and rescue process, along with several helicopters.

This disaster confirms how urgent it is to restore a robust rescue-at-sea operation and establish credible legal avenues to reach Europe. Otherwise people seeking safety will continue to perish at sea.

But it also points to the need for a comprehensive European approach to address the root causes that drive so many people to this tragic end.

I hope the EU will rise to the occasion, fully assuming a decisive role to prevent future such tragedies.

– António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
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