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Authorities work at religious school Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah after a fire broke out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Police in Malaysia have arrested seven youths in connection with a fire at an Islamic boarding school in Kuala Lumpur that killed at least 23 people, mostly teenagers.

The seven, aged 11 to 18, were brought to court and remanded for seven days, Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh told reporters at a news conference on Saturday.

"I can assure you now that the case is solved with the arrest of the seven of them," Singh said.

It was the most deadly incident of its kind in Malaysia in two decades, and has outraged the public, some of whom have called for greater safety and tougher regulation at such religious schools.

The arrested include students from the surrounding neighbourhood, and some have tested positive for consuming marijuana.

The police are treating the case as one of murder and mischief by fire.

The blaze erupted early on Thursday in a top-floor dormitory at the three-storey boarding school where most of the students were sleeping in bunk beds, with many of the windows covered by metal grilles.

Asked if the suspects had planned to kill the victims, Singh said: "Intention was to burn, but it could be because of their age or because of their maturity levels, perhaps they may not have known that it would cause deaths."

Two gas cylinders were brought up from the kitchen to the second floor, he said.

(Reporting Rozanna Latiff; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Reuters