Family’s fire death may have been mistaken identity

A family murdered in a suspected revenge attack may have been the victims of mistaken identity, a neighbour has said.

Shehnila Taufiq, who was in her 40s, died along with her 19-year-old daughter and sons, aged 17 and 15, when their British home was engulfed in flames early yesterday.

Ms Taufiq’s neurosurgeon husband, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar, has worked for the past six years in a number of Irish hospitals including Beaumont Hospital and Temple St Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

He also held clinics at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, the Mater Private Hospital, the Blackrock Clinic and the Hermitage Medical Clinic.

The dead woman and her children, named locally as Zainab, Jamal and Bilal, died in their bedrooms at their terraced house in the Spinney Hills area of Leicester city, hours after a man was killed in nearby Kent St.

Police said they could not rule out a link between the two events and said they are investigating whether the fire had been intentionally started as a revenge attack.

However, neighbours of the family reacted with disbelief to the idea that they could have been intentionally killed, and claimed they may not have been the intended targets.

A middle-aged man, who did not want to be named, said: “Most people feel this was meant for somebody else and they got the wrong house.”

The police launched the first murder inquiry shortly after 5.30pm yesterday when a man in his 20s was taken from Kent St — half a mile from the scene of the fire — to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where he died.

Less than 24 hours later a second inquiry began after neighbours reported flames shooting out of the first floor of the Taufiq family home at 12.30am.

Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister said officers were investigating a theory that Ms Taufiq and her children were killed in revenge for the earlier attack.

Ms Taufiq and the children had lived with Dr Sattar in Ireland for a number of years before moving to Britain about five years ago for an Islamic education. However they returned regularly to be with their father at the family home in Castleknock, Dublin.

Colleagues of the distraught doctor yesterday expressed shock at the news.

A statement issued by Beaumont Hospital said its board and staff wished to express their sincere condolences to Dr Sattar and assure him that their support and thoughts were with him “at this terrible time”.

The chief executive of Temple St Hospital, Mona Baker, on behalf of its board and staff, also expressed shock at their colleague’s tragic loss.

Dr Sattar is believed to have been working in Beaumont Hospital when he was informed of the horrific arson attack.

Last evening, Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh said the local Muslim community was deeply saddened by the tragedy.

“Dr Sattar is very well known among Muslims in Ireland. He is very active in our community,” said Dr Selim, who taught the consultant’s three children when they attended primary school in Clonskeagh.

The family members were together about a month ago when they spent the festival of Ramadan in Ireland.

Dr Selim said the family, originally from Pakistan, had planned to reunite in Ireland after the children finished their education.

They have had a home in Ireland for at least 15 years and the children are Irish citizens.

It is understood that Mr Sattar’s wife was a qualified doctor but was not working.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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