Murder investigation launched after four died in Leicester fire attack

Labour MP Keith Vaz called the deaths a real tragedy for the community

Leicestershire Police have launched a murder investigation after the death of a mother and her three children in a house fire.

Detectives are looking into the possibility that the fire was linked to the murder of a man in the city on Thursday but this is unconfirmed.

The family’s local mosque confirmed the names of the deceased – the mother Shehnila Taufiq, her daughter Zainab Taufiq, and her two sons Jamal and Bilal Taufiq.

They were found dead in the upstairs bedrooms at their house in Wood Hill.

The children’s father, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, worked as a neurosurgeon at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, and neighbours said the family had recently moved to Leicester.

A local resident who knew the family well said to 5Pillarz: “Dr Taufiq’s family were a practicing Muslim family and their deaths are a loss to the community. His wife became an alimah at Jamea where his daughter and son were also studying. His other son was a student at Darul Uloom.”

Revenge attack?

Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister said Leicestershire Police was examining the possibility of the blaze being a “revenge attack”.

He said the man who was murdered in Leicester on Thursday, Antoin Akpom was in his 20s and lived locally, a coach with the youth football team Nirvana FC.

He was assaulted in Kent Street, less than a mile away from the scene of the fire, at about 5.30pm.

Mr Bannister said: “These are obviously both very serious incidents and investigations have begun to establish if there are any links between them. I understand the level of concern there may be in the city and would ask things not to escalate. I invite people, that if they have any concerns, to speak to the officers at the scene or call the police.”

Emergency services were called to the fire at about 12.30am.

Mr Bannister said the Mrs Taufiq was thought to be in her late 40s, her daughter was 19, and her two sons were 17 and 15.

Mistaken address?

Several neighbours of the family also voiced fears that they had been mistakenly targeted in a revenge attack meant for someone else.

Islamic activist and charity worker, Majid Freeman also from Leicester said to 5Pillarz: “The mainstream media are trying to link the two incidents together, but the likelihood is that they are totally unrelated. The police obviously can’t rule this out but the media isn’t helping by trying to depict the incident as a revenge attack.

“It seems like the house being burnt down could be a case of mistaken address, so the perpetrators ended up killing innocent people who were unrelated to their motives.”

Neighbours said the family worshipped at the nearby mosque and said that Mr Taufiq was away in Ireland at the time of the fire.

Family friend, Zeeshan Bawany said the father “couldn’t believe what was being said to him” when he was told what had happened, and he was asked by the family to go to the house and check it was true.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who represents Leicester East, met community members near the police cordon sealing off Wood Hill. He said: “The father is a doctor and is being comforted by members of the community – a community who are clearly in grief. A whole family wiped out in this way, with only the father remaining, is a big shock and a real tragedy.”

A post-mortem examination on the murdered man is due to take place later.

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