Istanbul: As UK police investigate the case of three missing schoolgirls, who are believed to have fled to Syria to join the Islamic State, CCTV pictures have emerged that show the teenagers waiting at a bus station in Turkish capital of Istanbul.
According to the BBC, there are five CCTV images of the girls that show them waiting at Bayrampasa bus station for nearly 18 hours from 8 pm (local time) in the evening on 17th Feb to 13:22 pm on 18 February.
The report adds that after waiting there, the girls took a bus to Urfa, close to the Syrian border, on 18 February and from there, they may have been driven to a border crossing point by people smugglers.
The girls in question are Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who flew from London to Turkey after telling their parents that they were going out for the day.
The UK police has earlier said that the girls are now believed to be in Syria.
Security officials say at least 500 Britons have travelled to Syria to fight with extremists, often via Turkey. Experts estimate about 50 are female.
The three girls in the latest case — all described as "straight-A students" from a highly-regarded London school — went missing from their homes on Feb. 17. Authorities say they boarded a plane to Istanbul.
The families of Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, have implored them to return home.
A fourth girl from the school where the missing girls studied disappeared in December and was thought to have left for Syria. Police said detectives investigating that case spoke to the three girls at the time, but there was nothing to suggest they were at risk of radicalization.
Experts say most of the Islamic State group's recruitment of young girls is conducted online on social media such as Facebook, and those trying to make the journey invariably receive advice on how to conceal their tracks.
Top Turkish official complained Monday that British officials waited three days before seeking help in the case, losing valuable time.
Turkey's deputy prime minister said the girls arrived in Istanbul as tourists, and British authorities did not share enough information for Turkey to act quickly.
"It is a condemnable act, a shameful act that a country like Britain ... did not follow (the girls) closely," Bulent Arinc told reporters in Ankara, the capital. "They woke up three days after the fact to notify us."
"We don't have a mechanism that allows us to question or read the minds of tourists," he added.
The Metropolitan Police disputed that account, however, saying Tuesday that they notified the Turkish embassy in London a day after the girls went missing.
With Agency Inputs