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Families lose hope as London schoolgirls become 'jihadi brides'

The families of two east London school girls who fled to Syria have confirmed the teenagers have been married off to Islamic State (IS) militants.

Authorities in the UK and Europe launched a major search operation in February after three girls from Bethnal Green Academy left to become so-called "jihadi brides".

Kadiza Sultana,16, Shamima Begum,15 and 15-year-old Amira Abase going through security at Gatwick airport. Credit: PA

The families of the girls have confirmed that two of the three have since contacted them to reveal their marriages to what they've described as "approved" IS men.

The lawyer representing the families, Tasnime Akunjee, says it's now more unlikely the girls will ever return home.

"It has caused a lot of distress," he told The Guardian newspaper. "It entrenches their lives in Syria, rather than in Britain. It erodes significantly hopes that they will come back."

The three girls, Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, were seen on security cameras at Gatwick airport before flying out to Turkey.

There has been some criticism from the families about how Turkish authorities handled the case.

At Gatwick airport on their way to Turkey in February. Credit: PA

They have reportedly told their families that they have been separated and are living in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

The two who are now confirmed to be married apparently chose their husbands from a catalogue of suitors.

The Metropolitan Police believe around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, and around half are believed to have returned to the UK.

Read more: Missing Bethnal Green schoolgirls 'identified in Syria'

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Spectacular thunderstorm lights up London skyline

Londoners were treated to a stunning lightning display last night as heavy thunderstorms rolled across the capital.

Thousands of lightning strikes were recorded across the UK over the past 24 hours, triggered by a build-up of hot and humid conditions.

Lightning flashes over the tower of Westminster Cathedral in central London. Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Many people took to social media to share their photos of the wild weather. Here are some of the best:

One Twitter user, Dean Burnett, joked: "You can tell how far away from London a storm is by measuring the time between a lightning strike and the tweets about lightning."

Others described the thunder as being so loud it was if "Frankenstein's monster" was being brought back to life.

Saturday's weather forecast

Saturday: Fine and dry throughout the day with some good long sunny spells, especially in the afternoon and early evening. Feeling hot in the afternoon sun. Maximum temperature 28°C.

Credit: PA

Tonight: Staying dry throughout the night, with light winds and some long clear spells, particularly in the early hours of Sunday. Minimum temperature 15°C.

Sunday: Most areas dry with sunny spells throughout the day. Some isolated thundery showers are possible in Kent in the early morning, and in northern areas in the late afternoon. Maximum temperature 24°C.

Hamilton has work to do ahead of British Grand Prix

Credit: PA

Lewis Hamilton has admitted he has work to do ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix.

The current world champion was fourth quickest in practice at Silverstone yesterday.

At one point the 30-year-old from Stevenage lost control of his Mercedes.

Hamilton's team mate Nico Roseburg was fastest overall in the session.

Murray's coach believes in Londoner Ward

Andy Murray's coach, Jonas Bjorkman, believes Londoner James Ward has the fighting spirit to take his best-ever grand slam adventure even further.

The 28-year-old will take on Vasek Pospisil at Wimbledon today.

Ward blasted past rising Czech star Jiri Vesely to reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time, finally cracking the world's top 100 rankings.

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Kids Company 'gave cash directly to kids'

Kids Company chief Camila Batmanghelidjh has stepped down as the head of her charity after concerns over its management.

The shake-up of the organisation has been pushed for by the Government, which was reported to have threatened to withhold a £3 million grant unless changes were made.

Harriet Sergeant, the author of Among the Hoods: My Years with a Teenage Gang, told ITV News London that she witnessed the charity handing out cash in envelopes to children - and said that they told her Ms Batmanghelidjh had favourites amogn them.

But Ms Batmanghelidjh said that the cash was for homeless children and denies the charity has done anything wrong.

Correspondent Rags Martel reports:

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