The deadly fire that broke out at a religious school last Thursday was motivated by revenge, Malaysian police revealed yesterday.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh said seven individuals aged between 11 and 18 have been arrested over the blaze at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school that killed 23 people.
"The motive was to cause a fire, not to kill. It was also prompted by mocking. The suspects and some students from the tahfiz school had a misunderstanding due to both groups mocking each other," Datuk Amar told reporters.
He said closed-circuit television footage from a nearby building helped track down the suspects. "Questioning of the suspects led them to admitting (it)," he said.
The suspects will be remanded until Sept 22.
"Checks by us also found that six of them tested positive for marijuana. It was likely that they were under the influence when they allegedly committed the offence," he said.
TESTED POSITIVE FOR MARIJUANA
Checks by us also found that six of them tested positive for marijuana. It was likely that they were under the influence when they allegedly committed the offence.
KUALA LUMPUR POLICE CHIEF AMAR SINGH
Police have also seized five T-shirts and trousers belonging to the suspects to undergo a hydrocarbon test. According to a report by the New Straits Times citing unnamed sources, the suspects had used cooking gas and petrol to start the blaze.
"There was indeed a fire accelerant used to start the fire. You can say that gas cylinders were brought from the lower ground to the third floor by one of the suspects. (But) I can't say for sure whether the door of the dormitory was locked to prevent the victims from fleeing," he said.
Asked if the suspects had the intention of killing, Datuk Amar said: "They are young and may be immature… they may not know that their action could end with death."
The case is being investigated for murder, mischief by fire and sudden death.
"The case is considered solved," he said.
Last Thursday, 21 young students and two wardens trapped behind barred windows were killed in the pre-dawn blaze that swept the top floor of the three-storey building in Kuala Lumpur.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government will allocate RM30 million (S$9.6 million) to upgrade the infrastructure of private Islamic religious schools nationwide .