KUWAIT CITY - Kuwaiti authorities have arrested the person suspected of setting fire to a wedding tent and killing 41 people and said yesterday the motive was personal. Local newspapers reported the groom’s ex-wife was the arsonist.
The inferno Saturday night in the tribal area of al-Jahra, west of Kuwait City, ate up the women’s tent in just three minutes and left behind bodies so charred they were unrecognizable. Guests probably crushed one another in a desperate attempt to flee. It was still unclear if the bride had survived.
The alleged arsonist has been identified and “confessed to committing the crime for personal reasons,’’ Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Mohammed al-Saber told state-owned Kuwait television.
Al-Saber’s statement made no reference to an ex-wife, and he did not answer telephone calls seeking comment yesterday. But Kuwaiti newspapers speculated on the cause of the fire, saying that the groom’s former wife was to blame. The headline in the English-language Kuwait Times was “ ‘Scorned’ Woman Unleashed Fury.’’
The independent Al-Qabas daily said the groom’s former wife, who is 23 years old, poured gasoline on the tent and lit it because she felt her ex-husband mistreated her when they were married.
A statement yesterday from the Interior Ministry carried by the Kuwait News Agency said the perpetrator was in custody, but no name or details were given.
The “final and exact’’ death toll discussed in a high-level security meeting yesterday was 41, said Kuwaiti Fire Department chief, Brigadier General Jassem al-Mansouri.
The chief, who described the fire as the worst disaster he’s seen in almost four decades of service, said 6 bodies were still unidentified.