Dispute that led to KL religious school fire may have occurred on futsal court

Malaysians offer prayers for a victim of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre fire during a burial ceremony at Raudhatul Sakinah cemetery in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 15, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The dispute between students of a religious school in Kuala Lumpur and teenage outsiders who later set their building on fire, killing 23 people, may have begun at a nearby futsal court.

According to the principal of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz Centre, the students were only allowed to leave the premises on Mondays and Wednesdays to play at the court, which is about 200m from the school.

"They are given 45 minutes to play sports nearby, from 6pm to 6.45pm. Otherwise, they would be confined to the school compound," principal Mohd Zahid Mahmood told The Malay Mail Online.

"So this was probably when the students would have had a tiff with the suspects. Things could have escalated from there."

He said such encounters among teenagers were normal, but did not usually escalate into physical actions like the arson attack.

Mr Mohd Zaid said the religious school would resume operations at a nearby building as early as next month. "The new building is being renovated and we will obtain a certificate of fitness from the Fire and Rescue Department before commencing classes," he said.

He declined to respond to a question on why the school was earlier being operated without a fire safety plan.

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