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Mistaken identity theory over blaze


Police say four people have died in a house fire in Leicester

Police say four people have died in a house fire in Leicester

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Police say four people have died in a house fire in Leicester

A family murdered in a suspected revenge attack may have been the victims of mistaken identity, a neighbour has said.

Shehnila Taufiq, who was in her 40s, died along with her 19-year-old daughter and sons, aged 17 and 15, when their home was engulfed in flames early on Friday.

Mrs Taufiq's neurosurgeon husband, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, is believed to be en route home from Ireland where he works.

The mother and her children, named by the local mosque in Leicester as Zainab, Jamal and Bilal, died in their bedrooms at their terraced house in Wood Hill in the Spinney Hills area of the city several hours after a man was killed in nearby Kent Street. Police said they could not rule out a link between the two events and said they are investigating whether the fire had been intentionally started as a revenge attack.

But neighbours of the family reacted with disbelief to the idea that they could have been intentionally killed - and claimed they may not have been the intended target. A middle-aged man, who did not want to be named, said: "Most people feel this was meant for somebody else and they got the wrong house."

Leicestershire Police has not confirmed the identities of the five victims. The force launched its first murder inquiry shortly after 5.30pm on Thursday when a man in his 20s was taken from Kent Street - half a mile away from the scene of the fire - to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where he died. Less than 24 hours later a second inquiry began when neighbours reported flames shooting out of the first floor of the Taufiq family home at 12.30am.

As police appealed for information, Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister said officers were investigating a theory that Mrs Taufiq and her children were killed in revenge for the earlier attack. He said: "I can't confirm here and now it is a revenge attack - it may be, it may not be - but lines of inquiry will certainly get to the bottom of that."

Urging witnesses to get in touch, Mr Bannister said it was possible that both offences, which he described as "terrible, terrible crimes", were linked.

The Jame Mosque attended by the Taufiq family issued a statement expressing shock at the deaths.

Mr Sattar is a consultant neurosurgeon and has been working in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and with private hospitals in the city, the Blackrock and Hermitage clinics. His family lived with him for a number of years before moving to Leicester. Colleagues at Beaumont Hospital, Blackrock and the Hermitage expressed their sympathy.

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