Police in England have begun a murder inquiry after a mother and her three children were killed in a house fire in Leicester.

The woman, aged in her 40s and named locally as Shehnila Taufiq, her 19-year-old daughter Zainab and sons Bilal and Jamall, aged 17 and 15, died after a fire broke out at their terraced home this morning.

The woman's husband and children's father Muhammad Taufiq al- Sattar is a consultant paediatrician who works between a number of Irish hospitals including Beaumont, Temple Street, the Mater Private, and the Hermitage Clinic.

The family had lived in Ireland up to five years ago and planned to return here.

Mr Sattar is well-known in the Muslim community.

Leicestershire Police have launched a murder inquiry over the blaze and are examining the possibility of it being a revenge attack.

Emergency crews were called to reports of a man being assaulted in a nearby street several hours earlier.

Police have not released details of his injuries, but he was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary where he died. A 19 year-old man and two women, both 19, were arrested in connection with the man's death tonight.

The blaze at the Wood Hill property is less than 1km away from the assault scene.

Urging witnesses to get in touch, Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister said it was possible both offences, which he described as "terrible, terrible crimes", were linked.

He said officers were exploring different lines of inquiry but one included the fire potentially being a revenge attack.

Mr Bannister said he was particularly keen to speak to witnesses who were in both locations and said the crimes might be linked because of the close location and timing.

He added: "I can't confirm here and now it is a revenge attack - it may be, it may not be - but lines of inquiry will certainly get to the bottom of that."

The four victims were found dead in upstairs bedrooms.

Neighbours spoke of flames shooting out of the house, which was gutted in the blaze.

The officer said neither the family nor the man who was killed were known to police. Police are working to trace a man who also lived in the property.

Family had lived in Ireland

The family had lived in Castleknock, in Dublin, until five years ago.

Shehnila and the three children moved to England so the children could get an Islamic education not available in Ireland.

Mr Sattar remained in Ireland but visited them regularly.

The children had returned to Ireland for Ramadan last month.

Those who knew them said the family were planning to return to Ireland and Mr Sattar had plans to set up an Islamic school in Blachardstown for secondary school children. He wanted his children to teach there.

Shock at fire tragedy

It is reported that Mr Sattar was in Ireland at the time of the blaze, but has since returned to England where he is being comforted by family and friends.

Beaumont Hospital and Temple Street released statements expressing their condolences.

Leicester-based Imam Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, visited the scene.

He told reporters: "I did not know them personally but from what people have told me they were a very religious family, very humble, very modest and very generous.

"The mother was a scholar herself and clearly they were a family that was into religion and education and were held in very high esteem by the local community."