Police in Cyprus are on high alert after a four-year-old girl was snatched and taken from her mother by two men wearing hoods on Thursday morning in Nicosia.
According to some media circles abroad, the father of the girl – who is Norwegian and separated from the child’s 48-year-old Greek Cypriot mother – has reportedly stated that through his lawyer that he is now “with his daughter and everything is well”. Those reports have not been confirmed by police in Cyprus.
Sources of The Cyprus Weekly say the father is 49-year-old Leif Torkel Grimsrud. Police have announced that an arrest warrant has been issued against Grimsrud who is wanted for questioning in connection with the abduction. Some media sources claim that he was recently spotted in the north of Cyprus a few days ago.
Investigators say that the two men kidnapped the child as the mother was dropping her off at nursery and fled in a car at around 8.40am. The child’s father is living in Norway while the mother lives in Nicosia with the two having previouly been embroiled in a bitter custody battle.
The girl has been named as Marie Eleni Grimsrud. She was wearing pink clothes (t-shirt and leggings) at the time of the abduction, said police.
Media reports claim that some girls clothes have been found close to the nursery but it is unclear if they belong to Marie.
Police are on the lookout for an old black Range Rover with tinted windows and are calling on members of the public to contact their nearest police station or call the citizen’s hotline on 1460 or Nicosia CID directly on 22 802331.
The two men were wearing black clothes and black caps and their faces covered bandanas. A third man was said to be in the car and was the get-away driver.
According to witnesses, one of the men was described as being around 1.80m in height, slim build while the second was also 1.80m and normal build.
A police helicopter was dispatched and was circling Nicosia on Thursday.
“We are calling on the public with any information as to the vehicle in question or the whereabouts of a girl matching her description to contact us at once,” Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides told state television.
“As soon as the report came in of the abduction, we were on full alert. A big operation is currently underway to locate her and police are on alert at all the crossing points, ports and airports within the Republic of Cyprus.”
Norwegian media claim that the girl’s father has told them that he is with her.
It is widely believed that this abduction is related to a previous kidnapping attempt in Cyprus last year of Marie. Both the parents are involved in a bitter custody dispute.
Last year, Norwegian mercenary Espen Lee and two other men were taken into custody at the Agios Dometios checkpoint after reports that they had come to the island to take the child from its Greek Cypriot mother.
“The child’s mother had secured an injunction from Cyprus to have the child returned to her from the father – who is Norwegian and whom she had separated from,” Angelides had told the Cyprus Weekly at the time.
“We had received information that the trio would be arriving in Cyprus to kidnap the child, and we have sufficient evidence to back up those claims.”
Lie’s lawyer denied his client’s involvement in the case but allegedly the suspect was carrying documents which proved he was searching for the little girl.
The men were eventually released due to lack of evidence and deported from Cyprus.