Syria student family's privacy plea

Preston and Leyland Citizen: A house linked to student Abu Layth in Didsbury, Manchester, which was searched by police A house linked to student Abu Layth in Didsbury, Manchester, which was searched by police

Relatives of a man thought to have been killed fighting in Syria have asked to be "left alone in peace" as police confirmed they are not under investigation.

Counter-terrorism officers yesterday searched the home of student Abu Layth in Didsbury, Manchester, and spoke to his relatives.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed that the search has concluded and nothing was found to move the investigation forward.

Inquiries continue into how Layth, whose family name is Khalil Raoufi, died in the war-torn Middle Eastern country .

Qunmber Ehsan, a solicitor representing the family, said in a statement: " Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that whilst they are investigating the circumstances of the death of Khalil Raoufi, his family are not under investigation and there are no suspicions attached to them with regards to any alleged terror offences.

"The family would like to take this opportunity to thank Greater Manchester Police for their sensitive handling and assistance during this period.

"The family shall not be speaking to the media and ask that they be left alone in peace and their privacy respected."

Neighbours of the family spoke of their shock as police searched the detached home on a quiet, tree-lined street in the affluent Manchester suburb yesterday.

The father runs two restaurants on Manchester's "Curry Mile" and the mother, Kamala, is a housewife. They are believed to have come to the UK from Afghanistan around 10 years ago and would make usually annual trips back there.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said Abu Layth appeared to change from being a "normal" teenager as he grew older. He had been very friendly and enjoyed football with another youngster on the street but then changed his appearance and habits around three years ago.

"When you spoke to him on the street he would not say hello like the others did," she said. "He started wearing the robes as well. I was quite frightened of him a little bit. He was not the same."

Khalil Raoufi is understood to have enrolled on a mechanical engineering course at university and attended a local mosque before going to Syria.

Detective Chief Inspector Will Chatterton, of the north west counter-terrorism unit, said that as part of the National Prevent Strategy, officers are assessing how people are drawn into travelling to Syria to become involved in conflict and how to prevent others doing the same.

He said: "There is widespread concern about the situation in Syria and other conflict zones and the way that some will be driven to travel there to engage in humanitarian work or to take part in the fighting.

"We know that some have already lost their lives or been detained by the regime and badly treated.

"It is vital that anyone who has concerns that someone may be considering such travel informs the authorities."

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