An unidentified, 28-year-old suspect confessed to police that he started a fire in a building where he lived in the French town of Mulhouse that killed five people, including three Turkish children. The suspect was detained on Monday after French prosecutors announced that arson was suspected in the fire that killed Senem Ertunç, 9, whose family hails from the northern Turkish city of Gümüşhane and sisters Damla Aksu, 6, and Emine Aksu, 8, whose family is from the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaraş on Sunday.
French media reported that the suspect was charged with deliberate damage to property causing deaths and injuries. Eight people were also injured in the fire in a social housing complex in the town. The suspect is expected to appear before a court next Monday. Quoting Mulhouse prosecutor Dominique Alzeari, state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that the suspect was known to the police for arson and breaking and entering. French media reported that the suspect told police he started the fire because he was angered at "so much noise" by his neighbors.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the families of the Turkish victims and Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, who was in Paris for an event, visited the families. Kurtulmuş said Ankara would closely follow the developments regarding the incident. "We will never allow it to be covered up in any way," he told the Turkish community in Mulhouse.
Arson had long plagued Turkish communities in Germany and neo-Nazi groups were blamed for the deadly attacks.
France has about 1 million people of Turkish origin and the country is viewed as being safer than other European countries where Turks are sporadically subjected to hate crimes and attacks on their places of worship.