Leicester fire deaths: Father pays tribute as arrests made

Media caption,
Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar: "I deeply miss my beautiful wife and three beautiful children"

The man who lost four members of his family in a Leicester house fire has said he "deeply misses" them, as police arrested five people over the deaths.

Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar said: "I deeply miss my beautiful wife and three beautiful children.

"What has happened has happened, and nothing can be reversed, but I hope justice prevails and in future this should not happen to any family."

Three women, aged 27, 20 and 19, and men aged 49 and 19 have been arrested.

The arrests were made on Saturday afternoon.

The fire took hold shortly after midnight on Friday in Wood Hill with neighbours rushing to try to alert the family, named by the local mosque as Shehnila Taufiq, her teenage sons Jamal and Bilal and daughter Zainab, 19.

'Very supportive'

Image caption,
Police said none of the fire victims had anything to do with the attack that killed Antoin Akpom

Firefighters found them dead in upstairs bedrooms.

Speaking at the Jame Mosque where he worshipped with his family, Dr Taufiq Al Sattar, a neurosurgeon who works in Dublin, went on to thank the people of Leicester.

"The people of Leicester have been very supportive," he said.

"A real big thanks to the police department in Leicestershire for the good work and the media for being patient, understanding the pain I'm going through at present.

"I'm also thankful to the Jame Mosque. They made me feel that, despite losing my immediate entire family, the entire community in Leicester is family to me. Thank you very much."

Before addressing the media, Dr Taufiq Al Sattar spoke to about 1,500 worshippers in the mosque which is just yards from the home where his family died.

Image caption,
The victims of the fire were all found dead in upstairs bedrooms

Police said they could not rule out connecting the fire with the death of Antoin Akpom who died after an assault on Thursday in Kent Street, about a mile from Wood Hill.

But they added there was no evidence anyone who lived in the house was involved in the street attack.

'My best friend'

Tributes have been paid to Mr Akpom, a coach and former player at Leicester Nirvana FC, by family and friends.

Media caption,
Lianne Murray paid tribute to her brother Antoin Akpom, who died in a street attack in Leicester

The club held a minute's silence at games on Saturday, with more planned for Sunday.

His sister Lianne Murray said Mr Akpom planned to train as a teacher and worked at Sparkenhoe Primary School in Leicester.

"He was my baby brother, he was my best friend, and my right arm," she added.

"Everybody said he was a version of me. He was always on a positive vibe.

"He had this laugh, he lit up the room. I know that sounds a cliche but it's true."

'Dynamic and fast moving'

The Jame Mosque declared three days of mourning with special prayers held earlier for Jamal and Bilal with further prayers for their mum and sister planned for Sunday.

Detectives have carried out house to house enquires in both cases and continue to appeal for witnesses.

Assistant Chief Constable for Leicestershire Police, Roger Bannister, speaking at an earlier press conference, said there was "every reason to believe" the fire was started deliberately but a cause had not been established.

"It's a dynamic and fast moving inquiry," he said.

Speaking of the families of both victims he said: "I sit here before you today appealing for anyone quite simply to come forward. Two families have been absolutely devastated, whole communities have been rocked."

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