Police believe a 15-year-old from Bristol may have travelled to the Middle East to join Isil, but friends say she was a bright student who dreamt of becoming a dentist
The family of the 15-year-old Bristol schoolgirl, who police fear may have run away to join jihadists in Syria, have said they are completely confused by her disappearance.
The teenager, whose family are originally from Somalia in east Africa, is thought to have travelled to Turkey after being radicalised and is now intent on joining up with fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
School friends described the girl as a grade A student who dreamed of becoming a dentist.
She vanished from her Bristol home last week after failing to meet her father after school.
Police believe she may have travelled to London where she met up with an older girl before the pair flew from Heathrow to Istanbul.
Senior officers have said they fear she had been radicalised and was intending to cross over the border into Syria to join up with extremists.
Her mother confirmed that her daughter was "missing" while another relative added: "We are all really confused."
School friends said they were surprised to hear that she may have travelled to the Middle East.
One 14-year-old said: "She is a good friend. I have no idea what made her leave. I think the police have asked one of her friends to text her to see where she is. She is a really nice girl."
Another 15-year-old classmate added: "She was very smart. She was always getting As and A*s - that is the kind of student she was.
A schoolmate, who saw her the day before she went missing, said she had appeared completely normal.
"I was sat next to her and she seemed fine. She didn't have any new friends that we knew about, and she was a completely normal girl."
Other teenagers who knew the girl described her as "very religious", with one adding: "She had a very good education, she was very smart. She was very intelligent and had a very bright future ahead of her. I hope she is ok. I hope we hear some good news soon."
Speaking on behalf of the family, Hibaq Jama, a Somali-born Labour councillor for the Lawrence Hill area of Bristol said: "They are absolutely devastated, they are distraught.
"I think it is really important to understand that at the heart of it is a grieving mother and a grieving father who as of yet have no idea where their 15-year-old daughter is.
"The family are urging their daughter to return home. They have said, 'please come back, we miss you very much, you're not in any trouble, we just want you to be safe and come home as soon as possible'.
"What we know about her is that she is an incredibly bright, incredibly articulate, popular, gifted young lady who was admired by, and very much looked up to, by other members of her peers.
"She was doing very well in school, she is in year 11 and has started that final year of her education. She was very aspirational, wanting to go on and become a dentist.
"So it has come as a complete shock to the parents, they are devastated, but it is also come as a shock to the community who are now understandably asking questions about the fact that if she, as a 15-year-old girl from this community, very articulate, very well accomplished, has disappeared then there are understandably concerns for others as well."
Avon & Somerset Police Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said: "We can confirm that a 15-year-old student from Bristol has travelled to Turkey and we understand she may be attempting to make her way to Syria.
"Since she was reported missing by her parents we've carried out extensive work to trace her footsteps from the time she left home to her arrival in Istanbul, Turkey.
"We're giving every support we can to her family. We want to find out where she is and encourage her to return safely.
"There are indications she may have been radicalised but at the moment our priority is to find her before she crosses the border to Syria and make sure she is safe. We must all be vigilant and ready to spot the signs of radicalisation."