KUALA LUMPUR: Police believe that they have solved the case of fire which killed 23 people at a tahfiz school in Datuk Keramat, here, with the arrests of seven teenagers, reported the New Straits Times.
During a press conference at the city police headquarters last night, city police chief Datuk Amar Singh said investigations revealed that the suspects, aged between 11 and 18, had intended to burn down the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in an act of revenge over a namecalling incident that happened a few days prior.
He said the boys, several of whom are school dropouts, were picked up at a house and several locations in the Datuk Keramat area between 6.30pm Friday and 2.30am Saturday.
Six of them tested positive for ganja abuse and were believed to have been high when they started the fire.
Investigations also revealed that the suspects had placed two cooking gas cylinders at the top floor of the building and used a hydrocarbon accelerant to start the fire.
Amar Singh said police managed to identify the suspects from CCTV recordings that were surrendered by the Muslim Consumers Association, whose office is located beside the school.
He added that two of the suspects had a past criminal record for rioting and vehicle theft.
Police seized five clothes, five pants, four helmets, three motorcycles and three smartphones belonged to the suspects.
He also clarified that a student of the school, who was detained following the incident for questioning, was not among the suspects. Investigations revealed that the student had exited the school building early in the morning to sleep at a surau beside the school, and did not have anything to do with the fire.
Amar Singh said police are investigating the case under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, and Section 435 of the same code for mischief by fire.
Section 302 carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.
On Thursday, 21 students and two teachers of the school, aged between 6 and 26, were killed when they were trapped inside the hostel during the 5am blaze.
Seven other students were also injured, including two critically.