Teased boys held in fatal fire at school
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian police said Saturday that they have arrested seven boys suspected of intentionally starting a fire at an Islamic boarding school that killed 23 people because students there had teased them.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said the boys, ages 11-18, were rounded up since Friday night after they were identified in CCTV footage from a neighboring building that showed them near the school the night of the fire.
The pre-dawn blaze Thursday at a three-story “tahfiz” school, where Muslim boys study and memorize the Koran, blocked the only exit to the dormitory on the top floor, trapping students behind barred windows. Two adults and 21 students, ages 6-17, were killed.
“From our investigation, the motive behind the mischief was due to a misunderstanding after the suspects and some tahfiz students mocked each other a few days before the fire,” Singh said at a televised news conference.
He said it is believed that two cooking gas tanks were taken to the top floor and used to start the fire, which spread rapidly and took firefighters an hour to extinguish.
Singh said the seven are all school dropouts and will be under police remand for a week. He said the case has been classified as murder and mischief by fire.
Amar Singh (center), the police chief of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and members of his staff display the belongings of detained suspects Saturday at police headquarters during a news conference about last week’s fatal fire at a boarding school.