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Miscreants set house on fire; girl dies

The girl ho died was Alisha Begum and her family is from Bangladesh. The culprits were also identified to be Asians.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 16:50 IST

The house set on fire in the Perry Bar area of Birmingham on Friday by two men where a woman and her five children were inside raised the fear of a repeat of the race riots there a few months ago.

There was further danger of reprisals as one of the children in the house, a six-year-old girl died in a hospital two days later.

In the earlier riots that threatened to vertically divide communities in the city, black youths and Bangladeshi young men had clashed.

This time the police have quickly identified the deceased girl. Her name was Alisha Begum and her family is from Bangladesh. The men who set the house on fire were also identified to be Asians.

Police said the men forced their way into the property through the front door after a disturbance on Friday evening. Detectives have started treating the girl's death as murder and linking the fire with an earlier incident at the house.

The remaining children and their mother were treated in hospital.

Chief Superintendent t Stephen Dugmore of West Midlands Police, appealed for members of the Asian community to contact them with information about the incident which he described as "heartless".

He said the two men, wearing dark clothes, burst into the house at 2345 GMT on Friday and threw a substance, believed to be petrol, into the property.

The family ran upstairs and had to jump to safety from an upstairs window, but the six-year-old became trapped inside the house and had to be rescued. The men, thought to be accompanied by others, then fled.

The family's car, a Vauxhall Astra, which was parked outside the house, was also damaged. Ch Supt Dugmore said, "We believe there is history of some kind behind what happened last night.

"We know there was a disturbance outside the house the night before and really, I would ask people if they know anything about the earlier disturbance or last night to get in touch. It's a heartless crime."

Neighbours informed that the family had been living at the address for about two years.

First Published: Mar 13, 2006 16:50 IST