Heartbroken aunt in appeal over children's blaze deaths

The heartbroken aunt of two children who were killed in an arson attack broke down as she appealed for information about their deaths, describing the pair as two "angels".

Nadia Naqui sad the family had been looking forward to watching her 10-year-old niece, Alina Shah, and eight-year-old nephew Aman growing up.

But the children's future was obliterated when a blaze at their Bradford home in the early hours of Tuesday morning claimed their lives.

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As the children's mother, Iram Shah, remained critically ill in hospital yesterday, Mrs Naqui made an emotional plea for help to bring justice for the children.

"Their mother is fighting for her life unaware that her children are no longer with us," said Mrs Naqui, 28. "Aman and Lina my niece and nephew were recently taken away from us. Their smiles will be with us forever. Someone chose to end their lives before they had the chance to live them."

Fighting back tears she paid tribute to the children, whom she said were "good kids".

"Aman aspired to be a footballer and Lina a doctor and will never have the chance to fulfil their dreams," she said. "They were bright and talented and most importantly good kids."

Weeping, Mrs Naqui, told the Press conference in Bradford: "They gave my mum and dad a new lease of life. Aman and Alina made me the proudest auntie in the world as they were truly angels in every sense.

"Every father expects to be buried by their children but for my brother this is not the case.

"If anyone can help bring justice for our innocent children please come forward."

Police were yesterday questioning an 18-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of murder on Thursday night.

They also continued yesterday to interview a 21-year old man who was arrested earlier in the week.

Detectives released more details about the blaze which ripped through the house in Hendford Drive in the Pollard Park area of the city.

The fire was started from the outside, up against the back door of the property.

The alarm was raised by an uncle of the children who was staying with the family and who tried in vain to rescue them. Alina was pronounced dead at the scene while Aman was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after.

The children's mother was rescued by neighbours who rushed to help but suffered severe burns.

Forensic post mortem examinations of the children have established they died as a result of inhalation of fumes

Det Supt Bill Shackleton said: "It is now apparent from forensic examinations of the scene that the fire was started deliberately and an accelerant was brought to the scene. At this time we believe this accelerant to be petrol, but tests are still ongoing to confirm this.

"Whoever brought the accelerant to the scene would have needed to carry it in a can or a small container. It is also known that the person setting this fire brought with them a quantity of paper.

"The paper has a strong resemblance to the plain paper used to wrap

fish and chips."

Police want to hear from anyone who may know if there is any reason why the Shah family would be attacked in such a way.

Det Supt Shackleton said: "My appeal today is to anyone who has any information about the fire to come forward.

In particular we are seeking anyone who may have seen an individual or a small group acting strangely in the vicinity of Hendford Drive between half past midnight and a quarter to one in the morning of Tuesday, July 6.

"It is crucial we establish all the facts in this case. I would like to stress at this time that this is very much an ongoing investigation and inquiries remain active.

"If you have any information please contact the police.".

Anyone with information about the fire should call West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team on 01274 376575 or text 07786200805, starting the message with the word FIRE.

n Police said last night that a 21-year-old man arrested in connection with the fatal blaze has been charged with two counts of murder. He is due to appear before Bradford magistrates this morning.