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Thousands of mourners attended a funeral prayer service for a mother and three children who died in a suspected arson attack.

An estimated 7,000 people gathered in Leicester’s Spinney Hill Park yesterday to pay their respects to Shehnila Taufiq, 47, and her three teenage children, Zainab, Bilal and Jamil.

Mrs Taufiq’s husband, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, was among those who addressed the half-hour service, thanking mourners and police for their support since their deaths.

Eight people have been charged with murdering the four family members, who died in the blaze at their home in Wood Hill, Leicester, on September 13.

Dr Sattar, who works in Dublin as a neurosurgeon, told mourners: “It’s a sad day, my heart is crying. I would like to thank all of you for coming.

“I know our hearts are breaking but all the brothers and sisters are with me, everybody from Leicester from all denominations, outside Leicester and throughout the world.”

The funeral prayers, taking place ahead of a burial service in Dublin at the weekend, were open to the public.

Speaking to the media after private ambulances carrying the coffins of his loved ones had left the park following the service, Dr Sattar said he had drawn strength from his religious faith and was keen to continue to work for the benefit of the wider community.