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Middle East
Ex-wife admits Kuwait wedding arson
Groom's former wife admits to setting wedding tent ablaze, killing 43 women and children.
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2009 17:19 GMT
Kuwaiti mourners carry the body of a victim of the fire that ripped through the wedding party [AFP] 

The ex-wife of a groom at a Kuwaiti wedding party has admitted starting a blaze that engulfed a tent, killing 43 women and children.

The 23-year-old told police she poured petrol around the packed wedding tent and set it on fire to avenge her ex-husband's "bad 'treatment" of her before their divorce, Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper said on Monday.

Colonel Mohammad al-Saber, an interior ministry spokesman, said: "We have identified the perpetrator who confessed to committing the crime for personal reasons."

He told Kuwaiti television the fire engulfed the tent in just three minutes.

The bride escaped injured, but her mother and sister were killed.

Petrol blaze

Al-Qabas said the woman's maid had told police she saw her employer pouring petrol around the large women-only tent in the town of Jahra before the blaze started on Saturday night.

In video


Rescuers had difficulty evacuating the injured because the scene was flooded with onlookers

Ninety other people were injured in the inferno, which was the deadliest civilian disaster in the modern history of the Gulf state.

Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition and forensics specialists were working to identify the victims, officials said.

Sixteen of the dead were buried on Sunday.

Five people remain in critical condition with severe burns. At least seven of the dead were children.

Medical officials have said that specialised medical teams from Germany and Britain were coming to Kuwait to treat the injured.

The government of the oil-rich state has formed a high-level committee to investigate the incident after sharp criticism by politicians that authorities were too slow in the rescue operations.

Investigation demanded

A number of MPs have demanded a probe into why authorities failed to apply strict safety and security rules for wedding tents.

The interior ministry has advised citizens against setting up tents in residential areas as they could obstruct any rescue operations.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah expressed deep sympathy with the families of the victims and said he will not accept greetings on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, expected to start this weekend.

Several MPs have called on the government to declare a state of national mourning.

Last year, two women died and several others were wounded in a similar incident in Jahra, 50km west of the capital Kuwait City.

Most wedding parties in the conservative Muslim Gulf state are segregated in line with local tradition.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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