The Tahfiz Fire That Killed 23 Was Started By 7 Young Teens Seeking Revenge
The fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz centre in KL that claimed the lives of 21 children and two teachers was the deadliest in the country in the last 27 years. It was also an act of revenge perpetrated by seven young boys.
The seven boys, aged between 11 and 18, were arrested from several locations in the Dato' Keramat area between 6.30pm Friday and 2.30am Saturday, 16 September
Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Amar Singh said that the boys were suspected of intentionally starting the fire at the Tahfiz centre that killed 23 people.
They were arrested after being identified in CCTV footage obtained from a neighbouring building which captured the seven boys near the school the night of the fire.
Police have seized several items from the suspects
. Five shirts
. Five pants
. Four helmets
. Three mobile phones
. Two Lagenda 115Z motorcycles
. One Suzuki RU 120 LU motorcycle
According to Amar Singh, their motive was to seek revenge over a teasing incident that took place a few days before between the suspects and some of the tahfiz students
While Amar Singh declined to speculate on the motive behind the seven suspects' senseless act, he revealed that the suspects had an "intention to burn", attributing it to a prior dispute between the suspects and tahfiz school students.
"The incident's motive is believed to have arisen from a misunderstanding after teasing between the suspects and a group of residents at the tahfiz school's hostel that started few days before the incident," he was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online.
Six of the seven suspects tested positive for ganja abuse. Police believe they were high when they started the fire.
The suspects, several of whom are school dropouts, used cooking gas cylinders and a hydrocarbon accelerant to commit the offence.
While their initial plan was to break into the school to steal the students' handphones, they changed their plan after they gathered at an eatery beside a premise near the Tahfiz school early Thursday morning, and decided to burn the school as revenge.
According to a report in NST Online, two of them went to buy petrol.
At about 4.30am, the suspects gathered at a field behind the Tahfiz school. Then three of them sneaked inside the school, broke into the kitchen from where they stole two cooking gas cylinders and took the cylinders to the top floor of the hostel.
They poked the cylinders' heads to release the gas, poured petrol on the staircase starting from the top floor before igniting the petrol using a lighter, NST Online reported.
After they started the fire, the suspects fled the scene on their motorcycles.
"Their basic intent was to cause mischief by fire. But maybe because of their age and maybe because of their level of maturity, they did not know their actions would cause the final result," Amar Singh told the press conference
The case has been classified as murder and mischief by fire
The offences under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder and Section 435 for mischief by fire are punishable by death a maximum 14-year jail and fine.
"We have secured a seven-day remand against the suspects," KL police chief Amar Singh said during a press conference late Saturday night, adding that two of the seven suspects also have a past criminal record for rioting and vehicle theft.
During the press conference at the KL police headquarters, Amar Singh declared the case "solved with the arrests of these seven individuals".
"This is a tragedy so I am happy we are able to solve it and can bring some peace to the families. It's a tragedy not only for the family but everybody in Malaysia," he added.