Police say there is no link between nearby street killing and blaze that left woman and three children dead
Police have arrested five people in connection with an arson attack that claimed the lives of the wife of a neurosurgeon and their three children.
Leicester police said that three women, aged 19, 20 and 27, and two men, aged 49 and 19, were detained. Details of the arrests came shortly after police said that those who died in the fire at their home in Wood Hill, Leicester, early on Friday morning – Shehnila Taufiq, who was in her 40s, her 19-year-old daughter, Zainab, and two sons, Jamal, aged 17, and 15-year-old Bilal – had no connection to the death of a man attacked in a nearby street the previous day. It is thought that the property was targeted by mistake in a revenge attack following the earlier incident, in which Antoin Akpom, a coach and former player at Leicester Nirvana FC, was killed.
Muhammad Taufiq al-Sattar, who flew back to Leicester from Ireland, where he works, said: “I deeply miss my beautiful wife and three beautiful children. What has happened has happened, and nothing can be reversed, but I hope justice prevails and, in future, this should not happen to any family in the UK.
“The people of Leicester have been very supportive. A real big thanks to the police department in Leicestershire for their good work and the media for being patient and understanding the pain which I am going through at present. I am also thankful to the local mosque – they made me feel that, despite losing my immediate entire family, the entire community in Leicester is family.”
Sattar also spoke to 1,500 worshippers during prayers at the Jame Mosque in Spinney Hill. “He said that he has been comforted by the condolences,” said imam Muhammad Uwais. “He said he had come to Leicester in 2007 after being impressed with its community and its educational system. He was adamant that he will not sit in a corner but will carry on his family’s mission of being good representatives of their faith, and he urged the congregation to do the exact same.”
Leicestershire police’s Leicestershire’s Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister said in a statement: “While we are investigating links between the two crimes, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest those who died in the fire, or indeed anyone else who lives in that property, was involved in the assault.
“Because of the close proximity – in terms of time and location – of the two incidents, it is right that we look at whether there are links between the two crimes.
“However, at this stage in our investigations we have found nothing to suggest the residents of the house devastated by the fire had anything to do with the [earlier] Kent Street incident.”
Neighbours of the family, who are originally from Pakistan, reacted with disbelief to the idea that they could have been intentionally killed, and said they might not have been the intended target. A middle-aged man, who did not want to be named, said: “Most people feel this was meant for somebody else and they got the wrong house.”
Leicester Nirvana FC’s chairman, Zak Hajat, paid tribute to the dead man. “He was someone who had a great relationship with the young people and he worked hard,” he said.