'Arsonist' killed GP and four children


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The Independent Online

A GP and four of her children died in a suspected arson attack on their home despite her doctor husband's desperate attempts to save them, police said.

Sabah Usmani, 44, her sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayan, six, and 13-year-old daughter, Hira, died in their end-of-terrace house in Harlow, Essex, at about 1am yesterday.

A third son, Muneeb, nine, and daughter Maheen, three, were rescued by fire crews and taken to hospital in a critical condition. Muneeb later died. Dr Usmani's husband, Dr Abdul Shakour, 45, was last night being treated for severe smoke inhalation in the intensive care unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, where he works.

The family, from Pakistan, had lived in Saudi Arabia for 10 years before recently moving to the UK, to Manchester and then Harlow. Dr Usmani was a GP but was looking after their children.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate, said: "The father was in the property at the time and fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions."

A Ford Focus was also found alight a short distance from the house, and police are treating both blazes as arson. Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson said: "We are investigating to see whether this fire was started deliberately and need anyone with information to contact us."