Police plea over blaze suspect 10 years on

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today marks the tenth anniversary of an arson attack that caused the deaths of three generations of a Huddersfield family and police have appealed for help tracing a suspect.

A major fire at Osborne Road in Birkby, Huddersfield, led to the deaths of eight members of the same family just before 2am on May 12, 2002.

Muhammad Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, Nefessa Aziz, 35, Tayyaba Batool, three, Rabia Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and six-month-old Najeeba Nawaz all died in the blaze while Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, died in hospital a week later.

The investigation that followed the blaze became the largest multiple murder investigation that West Yorkshire Police had handled in nearly 30 years. In July, 2003, three men were convicted for their part in the crime.

Another man, Shahid Mohammed, then aged 20, who was arrested in the early stages of the investigation, failed to answer bail and last night police and family members appealed for help in tracing him.

Abdul Aziz Chishti, a family member who is ill in hospital, said: “Life for the Chishti family is still a daily struggle and we would treasure the joy of being surrounded by our loved ones.

“On this 10th anniversary we would appeal to the community, particularly people who know Shahid Mohammed, to contact police with any information they have.”

Det Supt Sukhbir Singh, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, who is leading the investigation, said: “The family have remained dignified throughout, but have had to live with the fact that so many lives were cut short by the fire: babies should have grown up to be children, children into teenagers and teenagers into adults.”

Call Huddersfield police with information on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.