Police: Youths started fire after being insulted by tahfiz students

KUALA LUMPUR: Mocking between students of Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school and a group of local teenagers in Jalan Datuk Keramat led to the revenge arson attack which killed 23 students and teachers of the school.

Seven aged between 11 and 18 have been arrested in connection with the fire early on Thursday.

City police Chief Comm Datuk Amar Singh said the teenagers were picked up between 6pm on Friday and 2.30am yesterday.

He said insults exchanged between the youths and the students early in the week was believed to be the trigger that led to the tragic fire.

“Investigations revealed that their motive was to burn the school. Their basic intent was to cause mischief by fire.

“But maybe because of their age, they didn’t know that their actions would lead to the final result,” he said adding that there was a possibility that the suspects were “high” during the incident.

Comm Amar also confirmed that two gas cylinders were brought from the lower floor to the top floor of the building where the fire started and that an accelerant was also used.

The 5.15am fire at the tahfiz school resulted in the death of 21 students and two teachers. Six other students were injured.

He said police also seized five shirts, five pants, four helmets and three motorcycles from the suspects.

He added that six of the seven suspects also tested positive for ganja and checks showed that two of them had previous criminal records.

Comm Amar said the seven were school dropouts living nearby the area.

Comm Amar added that the seven have been remanded for seven days starting yesterday.

He said that the case was being investigated for murder, mischief by fire, sudden death and fire report.

Asked whether any fuel was found on the clothes of the suspects that were seized, Comm Amar said: “I can only confirm that five pairs of clothing and pants were seized to undergo hydrocarbon analysis.

“We have completed the investigation and with the arrests, I can confirm that the case is solved and there would not be any more arrests,” he said.

Comm Amar also confirmed that one of the suspects was caught on CCTV footage that went viral on social media.

He also urged people to stop spreading information about the case on social media as it would affect the investigation.

The police announcement shocked parents of those who died in the fire.

“I could not believe that the fire was an act of arson, as I previously thought it could have been due to a short circuit,” said Siti Salfari Ismail who lost a 10-year-old son Muhammad Aidil Aqmal Mohd Zamzuri.

She said what was even more shocking was the revelation that the suspects were teenagers.

“This is so cruel to my son and his friends. So many of them lost their lives. I cannot believe someone would do this,” Siti Salfari said.

She learnt about the news through her friends working at the police station.

The grieving mother said she hoped those involved would get their just punishment if they were proven guilty.

She also said her son was happy studying at the tahfiz school and had never complained about any untoward incidents.

Ahmad Nor Ramli, the father of 13-year-old Muhammad Hazim, said he would leave the matter to the police.

“I hope the police will find the truth and justice will prevail,” he said.

He also said his son had never complained about any disagreement involving the students at the school.

Norakma Aini Ruslan, 29, the mother of 14-year-old victim Muhammad Daniel Md Amin said, “I hope those involved will get the punishment they deserved.”

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