Five of Sara Sharif’s siblings who travelled from the UK to Pakistan with their father should be sent to a state childcare facility temporarily, a Pakistani court has ordered.
The ruling was made after the children were taken from Sara’s grandfather’s house, where they had been staying since August, in a police raid.
Pakistan police, along with help from Surrey Police, are on the hunt for Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, 41, his partner Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik after Sara, aged 10, was found dead and alone at the family home in Woking, Surrey, on August 10.
The couple fled the UK for Pakistan with five children aged between one and 13 shortly after Sara’s death and police there have questioned a number of Sharif family members.
The group of children were found by police on Monday evening at the home of Sara’s grandfather, Muhammad Sharif, in the northeastern city of Jhelum.
Neighbours said dozens of officers raided the grandfather’s house, where the children had been staying since August 10, but the children had been returned to him just hours later.
Muhammad Sharif confirmed to the BBC that police had raided his home.
“Since they came from the UK, I didn’t let them go,” he said.
“I told Urfan and Beinash that they can go wherever they want to, but I will not let the children go with you. Until today, no one had asked me about the children.”
His son and his partner had not phoned him, he told the BBC, adding that maybe it was because “if the police found out they would have been hard on me”.
Eyewitnesses told the broadcaster that officers had searched the property about 4.30pm local time on Monday, halting traffic and asking passersby not to film the police operation on their phones.
The BBC also spoke to sisters of Urfan Sharif, who said the children were crying when they were “dragged away” from Sara’s grandfather’s home.
Police officer Nasir Mahmood Bajwa said the children have been in safe custody since their recovery.
They were produced before the court on Tuesday under high security. The court ordered the children to be shifted to the custody of the Child Protection Bureau in Rawalpindi city, close to Islamabad.
Police are continuing to search for Sara’s father as well as her stepmother and uncle Faisal Mailk, who all travelled to Islamabad the day before the girl’s body was discovered.
On Saturday, police said that Mr Sharif and Ms Batool were still in hiding and 10 close relatives have been taken into custody for questioning and an investigation.
Police in Pakistan often detain the close relatives of wanted suspects. However, they are not kept in jail to avoid the intervention of a court.
Last week, Ms Batool spoke publicly for the first time since the little girl was found dead.
In a clip of the footage posted online by Sky, Batool showed no emotion as she describes Sara’s death as “an incident” and said she and her husband were willing to co-operate with UK authorities over the case.
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.”
Surrey Police are appealing for information to help them gain a picture of Sara’s life.