A grieving father has spoken of the loss of his whole family who were killed in a suspected arson attack as police question five people in connection with the blaze.
Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar said he would “deeply miss” his “beautiful” wife, daughter and two teenage sons who died in a severe fire at their home in Wood Hill, Leicester, and called for justice to prevail.
Three women aged 19, 20, and 27 and three men aged 49, 19 and 18 have been arrested in connection with the fatal blaze, which ripped through the house in the early hours of Friday. The 19-year-old man was last night released without charge.
It is feared the family’s property was targeted by mistake in a revenge attack following a fatal assault in nearby Kent Street on Thursday.
Dr Sattar, who works as a neurosurgeon in Ireland, spoke publicly after prayers were said for his family at his local mosque on Saturday, just a day after learning of the deaths on his return to the UK.
He said: “All of you know of the tragic incident in which my entire family has passed away.
“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.”
Shehnila Taufiq, who was in her 40s, died with her 19-year-old daughter Zainab and sons, Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15, in the fire on Friday morning.
“The people of Leicester have been very supportive,” Dr Sattar added.
“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 to me.”
Inquiries have found no evidence to suggest anyone who lived at the fire-hit property was involved in any way with the earlier incident.
A man and two women were initially arrested in connection with the Kent Street murder as friends of the victim, who has been named in reports as Antoin Akpom, visited the scene on Saturday to pay their respects.
The women, both aged 19, have since been released without charge, although a 19-year-old man being questioned over Mr Akpom’s death remains in custody. Police were last night granted a magistrates’ extension to allow them a further 36 hours to question him.
Officers investigating the Kent Street murder are appealing for the driver of a red 1 Series BMW, who is believed to have driven past the scene of the assault on Thursday at around 5.30pm, to come forward to help with their enquiries.
Assistant chief constable Roger Bannister said: “I would like to thank the people of Leicester for their support, for the way they have accepted the disruption that our investigations may well have caused.”
“What we are absolutely confident about at this stage is that there is no evidence to suggest any of the family killed in the fire, or anyone who lived at that address, was in any way involved in the incident at Kent Street.
“I appeal for anyone with any information to come forward.
“Two families have been devastated, whole communities have been rocked by these two events. If you know anything at all, please don’t hold back, listen to your conscience and contact us.”
Mr Akpom’s mother, Cheryl Armatrading, has also spoken of their family’s loss, saying: “Antoin was a beautiful boy. He had just had a young baby and had a good job.
“I just want to know if anybody knows who killed my boy. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this. It’s too much.”
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz visited Wood Hill, in the Spinney Hills area of Leicester, yesterday after police lifted a cordon which had been in place since the fire. He also attended a tribute to Mr Akpom at Leicester Nirvana FC.
Speaking near the Taufiq home, Mr Vaz said: “The whole city is in shock.
“The police have done a superb job so far and I think everyone wants to see the perpetrators of these five deaths brought to justice as quickly as possible.
“I have been to the Nirvana Football Club for a tribute to Antoin with his family. They are grief-stricken as Dr Sattar is grief-stricken.”
Players and spectators observed a minute’s silence before matches played by Leicester Nirvana over the weekend out of respect for Mr Akpom, who coached and played for the club.