Police Arrest 7 Boys Linked to School Fire That Killed 23

Malaysian police say suspects were teased by students
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 16, 2017 9:57 AM CDT
Men prepare graves during mass funeral for some of the victims of a fire at a private Islamic boarding school outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.   (Daniel Chan)
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(Newser) – Malaysian police say 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 Saturday the boys, aged 11 to 18, were rounded up after they were identified in CCTV footage from a neighboring building that showed them near the school the night of the fire, the AP reports. The pre-dawn blaze Thursday at a three-story "tahfiz" school, where Muslim boys study and memorize the Koran, blocked the lone exit to the dormitory on the top floor, trapping students behind barred windows. Two adults and 21 students, aged between 6 and 17, were killed.

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. Singh said it is believed that two cooking gas tanks were brought up to the top floor and used to start the fire, which spread rapidly and took firefighters an hour to extinguish. Firefighters and witnesses have described scenes of horror—first of boys screaming for help behind barred windows as neighbors watched helplessly, and later of burned bodies huddled in corners of the room. Officials have said the school was operating without a fire safety permit and license, and that an illegally built dividing wall blocked the victims from a second exit. (Read more Malaysia stories.)

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