DETECTIVES investigating a fatal house fire in which a man lost his wife and five children believe the home may have been burgled beforehand.

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Dr Abdul Shakoor’s wife Sabah Usmani and their children died after a fire at their home in Barn Mead, Harlow in the early hours of Monday, October 15.

Emergency services fought to save the family but Sabah, a 44-year-old qualified doctor, daughter Hira, 12, and sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, six, died at the scene.

Son Muneeb, nine, and daughter Maheen, three, were taken to hospital in critical conditions but sadly later died.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Essex Police is working closely with Essex Fire and Rescue service and independent fire scientists but to date has been unable to identify the cause of the fire.

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate now believe there may have been a burglary at the home after the family had gone to bed and before the fire was discovered.

A laptop bag containing personal papers belonging to Dr Shakoor was found abandoned near lock up garages in Whitewaits, Harlow on Friday, October 26, Police believe the laptop may have been stolen in the burglary.

Enquiries have also revealed that during the evening of the fatal fire, there were two unsuccessful attempts to break into other properties in Harlow.

Police and Dr Shakoor are now asking for members of the public with information to come forward.

Two people, a teenage boy aged 15 to 16, who was wearing a tracksuit, and a slim girl in a Burnt Mill School uniform, were seen throwing the laptop bag away near the garages in Whitewaits.

Detectives need to speak to them urgently to find out where they found the bag.

Police are also appealing for information about the whereabouts of Dr Shakoor’s Toshiba laptop.

Police also want to speak to a group of four young men who were outside the house in the early hours of October 15.

The males who were aged between 16 and 19 and were wearing tracksuits and baseball caps. Two of them were on bikes.

The first is described as 15 to 18 with ginger or light brown hair. He was wearing black jogging bottoms with stripes down the legs, a hip-length anorak style jacket with a hood and was riding a light coloured bike.

The second was riding a black mountain bike, is described as 16 to 18 and was wearing a light grey top.

Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson said: “From the onset this house fire and that of the nearby car fire were investigated as suspicious incidents by a dedicated team from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.”

Anyone with information should call Essex police on 101.

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