A family of 12 from Luton who went missing on a trip to Bangladesh have informed relatives in the UK that they are in Syria, the BBC reports.
Three generations of the family, aged between one and 75, flew to Bangladesh on 10 April before flying to Istanbul on 11 May. Their sudden disappearance has sparked fears they may have joined terror group Islamic State.
The members of the missing family have been identified as: Muhammed Abdul Mannan, 75, and his wife Minera Khatun, 53; their daughter Rajia Khanom, 21, and sons Mohammed Zayd Hussain, 25, Mohammed Toufique Hussain, 19, Mohammed Abil Kashem Saker, 31, and his wife Sheida Khanam, 27; Mohammed Saleh Hussain, 26, and his wife Roshanara Begum, 24, along with three children, aged between one and 11.
Mannan's two sons from a previous relationship raised the alarm when the family did not return home from their trip after stopping in Turkey.
Relatives of the missing family have expressed their shock at the reports. In an interview with LBC radio a family member, identified only as Salma, said the extended family believes their relatives were "brainwashed" - probably through the younger family members.
Describing the family she said: "In all fairness this was just a typical normal family. You know we grew up together. We did everything together. They're a very, very large family. We still have lots of family left behind. Other siblings, other grandchildren yet still left behind and none of us can get over how this has come to be. It's absolutely shocking."
She said theirs was a normal household, adding that there were never any suspicions that they were planning to flee to Syria.
"We have no idea because, you know, there's been a lot of brainwashing going on," she said. "I don't know how that's been allowed. But this is just a normal, standard, average family where you do average, crazy things. You have a laugh, you have a giggle, you have fights, it's everything is normal as you would expect with any family household.
"So all of a sudden for them to just literally pack their bags and go, and then they go missing, and they don't come home. That's when you know you start putting everything together and thinking how, where, why, what? What triggered it? Everything was normal. There was no signs. There was nothing. And this is the fear. Do we actually know anyone? After this incident we don't actually know anybody at all to be fair," she explained.
"Something somewhere has certainly happened. And you know we don't have any power or any control of or any understanding of. And it could just literally happen to anybody. It could happen to anybody."
The family 'was radicalised in Bangladesh'
When asked why she thought the family chose to go to Syria she said: "I reckon it must have been you know just the kids. I'm pretty sure it started off with the kids. Yeah one of the kids probably looking too into it, getting brainwashed by it and then maybe polluting or contaminating you know other family members."
She added that she believes the family were radicalised in Bangladesh.
She said: "Because if it didn't happen here, how in the world do three generations just disappear into thin air in one night? How in the world does that happen? And we're talking about three different generations of almost, shall we say, minus the three children, everyone else being in sort of sound mind.
"How do they get brainwashed? How do they believe in whatever they were made to believe? How do they believe it?'"
"You know it's really, really sad, and you know there is two families because there is another family where there's five other siblings from the same dad. They're all here [in the UK]. And it's left them with nothing. It's just literally ripped up their hearts and they are now having to get on with their lives."
Bedfordshire Police said it was aware of suggestions the group was in Syria, but these were as yet "uncorroborated".