Islamic school fire cause probed
Detectives investigating a fire at an Islamic boarding school are working to establish if it was started deliberately.
Almost 130 pupils and staff were evacuated from the Darul Uloom Islamic School in Chislehurst, south-east London, on Saturday night, with teachers reacting quickly and extinguishing the flames.
Only minor damage was caused to the school but two boys suffered smoke inhalation. They did not require hospital treatment.
Questions were asked about the motive after the Metropolitan Police said the fire was suspicious. It happened only days after an Islamic centre in London's Muswell Hill was burnt to the ground amid allegations it was a racist attack.
The building was daubed with the letters ''EDL'', apparently referencing the English Defence League. That blaze prompted fears that the fire may have been a reprisal attack in the wake of the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Speaking on Sunday night, Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "These are difficult times for London's communities.
"The Met is now investigating suspicious fires at two locations within the Islamic community which have happened in the past few days. Fortunately no one has been hurt, but we know that fires can often prove fatal.
"So I want to reassure people that we are using our full range of policing tactics to protect sites that might be vulnerable. In all boroughs across London, there is an increased police presence around locations that might be at risk. We will maintain a 24/7 guard of uniformed officers at sites we consider to be at greatest risk."
Detective Chief Superintendent Steph Roberts, Bromley borough commander, appealed for calm and urged people not to speculate on the cause of the school fire.
School principal Mustafa Musa claimed intruders started the fire in the school teaching area, but did not say how the fire was started or if the culprits broke into the building.