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Arrests in hunt for Birkby murders fugitive Shahid Mohammed

DETECTIVES hunting a man suspected of involvement in a house fire, which claimed the lives of eight people in Huddersfield, have vowed to step up the hunt.

Shahid Mohammed

DETECTIVES hunting a man suspected of involvement in a house fire, which claimed the lives of eight people in Huddersfield, have vowed to step up the hunt.

They repeated their pledge to track down Shahid Mohammed, 31, after confirming that nine people have been arrested in connection with the worldwide manhunt.

All those detained have been quizzed on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Police revealed details of the arrests late on Wednesday evening.

Mohammed is alleged to have been involved in the arson attack on a home in Osborne Road , Birkby, in the early hours of May 12, 2002, which left eight members of the Chishti family dead.

Five children and three adults perished in the fire.

Police later arrested Mohammed in connection with the deaths.

But he fled when he was released on bail and is thought to have flown to Pakistan.

The police have now released a new photo of the wanted man – seized during the investigation.

The new photo cannot be exactly dated but police sources confirmed it has been identified by people who know Mohammed.

Eight of those arrested in connection with the search for Mohammed were detained in Huddersfield and the ninth elsewhere in the UK.

Eight of the arrests were made a on May 13 – the day after the 11th anniversary of the fire, which shocked the nation.

Five young sisters died in the fire: Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabia Batool, 10, five-year-old Ateeqa Nawaz, two-year-old Aneesa Nawaz and six-month-old Najeeba Nawaz.

Also killed were Muhammad Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, and Nefessa Aziz, 35. Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, died in hospital a week later.

Three others escaped the inferno.

In February this year, detectives launched a new operation to track down Mohammed.

More than 100 police officers were sent out across Huddersfield calling at 80 addresses, handing out 6,000 flyers.

Some of the homes visited included those of friends and known associates of Mohammed.

The latest arrests are part of that operation.

Police raided a number of homes in Huddersfield on May 13 and detained eight people.

Six men aged 64, 35, 34, 28, 25 and 16 and two women aged 55 and 32 were detained, questioned and bailed.

The ninth arrest was made on Wednesday this week and the man, 39, was later bailed.

Police insisted the inquiry was “very much active”.

Three of those held are expected to appear in court on unrelated matters next month.

Det Supt Lisa Griffin, senior investigating officer, said: “The scale of this tragedy cannot be over stated.

“The devastating fire claimed the lives of five children, and three adults. This remains the biggest multiple murder that West Yorkshire Police have investigated in 30 years.

“The manhunt has stepped up a gear with positive lines of enquiry taking us closer to achieving our objectives of locating the fugitive Shahid Mohammed and identifying those persons who seek to protect him.

“The determination of West Yorkshire Police to support the family of these victims by delivering a successful conclusion couldn’t be stronger.’’

Anyone with information concerning the incident should contact the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

 

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