A Syrian man is wanted for questioning following the Nicosia downtown blast where a Ukrainian woman was found dead in the ensuing fire.
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Police say a witness saw on Wednesday early morning just before 3am a young male leaving the scene of an explosion, a café bar on the ground floor of a residential building on Costakis Pandelides Street, downtown Nicosia.
Law enforcement officials later named a suspect, 32-year-old Syrian national Imprachim Chalil, described as 1.65m tall, medium build, with short dark hair. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Police said they are investigating premeditated murder including manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a felony, burglary, and arson.
Police said they are investigating premeditated murder including manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a felony, burglary, and arson
According to a witness, the suspect was seen walking away from the area. Additional accounts relayed to police said there was a powerful and very loud explosion, which caused a fire to rage upwards prompting residents to evacuate the building.
After the fire was put out, a woman was found dead on the second floor in what police described as her own apartment but “with no physical connection to the bar” downstairs. The victim, described as 42-year-old Ukrainian national, reportedly arrived on the island in December in search of a new beginning.
The cause of her death was not immediately clear while media speculation focused on possible smoke inhalation. No information was made available as per the exact location of the body or why she was unable to leave the apartment.
An autopsy by state forensic pathologist Sofocles Sofocleous, scheduled for Thursday morning at 11am in Nicosia, is expected to show the exact cause of death. Sofocleous had already visited the crime scene along with fellow state pathologist Nicholas Charalambous.
Authorities did not confirm whether a fire had started prior to the explosion, citing one account according to which the blast was heard before the fire broke out. Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides said further tests will show exactly how and when the fire started. Earlier reports said a leak from a gas cylinder most likely caused the explosion and the ensuing fire.
Investigators are also sifting through security camera footage, while the owner of the bar reportedly said he did not have business disputes with anyone.