Robbers set fire to Highgate restaurant

A RESTAURANT in Highgate was left burnt out after allegedly being targeted by robbers in the early hours of the morning. The blaze at Indian Spice Lounge on Swain s Lane was reportedly started by a gang of robbers who set the place alight a

Ben McPartland

A RESTAURANT in Highgate was left burnt out after allegedly being targeted by robbers in the early hours of the morning.

The blaze at Indian Spice Lounge on Swain's Lane was reportedly started by a gang of robbers who set the place alight after failing to break into the safe.

The owner of the Indian Spice Lounge was also treated for superficial burns to his legs after being caught in the fire.

He told police that as he was about to leave, the robbers turned up and forced him back onto the premises. He had his head held down while they tried to break into the safe. Unable to do so, they decided to set fire to the place with him still inside before fleeing.

One of the owners of Indian Spice Lounge, Amil Hussein, brother of the victim, said: "You don't expect this to happen anywhere, let along in Highgate. It just came out of the blue. All that hard work we put in was really starting to pay off. We had a growing number of regular customers."

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Police are investigating the allegation. The London Fire Service, who were called just after 1am are also investigating the cause of the fire.

Two fire engines and around 10 firefighters rushed to the scene from Kentish Town Fire Station and took around half an hour to get the blaze under control.

Ambulance staff treated the owner's burns at the scene before taking him to the Royal Free hospital.

The restaurant's bar manager Matt Hinks, who lives across the road, said: "I heard this explosion and the sound of glass shattering. I thought it was just a bus crashing on the roundabout.

"I looked out of the window towards the restaurant and saw the windows had been blown out so I got dressed and rang the fire brigade.

"When I got over to the restaurant you could just see smoke inside and a small fire behind the bar area."

A spokeswoman for Camden police said: "Camden police and LFB are investigating the circumstances of a fire at a restaurant in Swains Lane, Highgate N6, on Thursday February 11, at approximately 1am.

"A 23-year-old man was taken by ambulance to a north London hospital. The venue sustained fire damage.

"No arrests have been made yet and enquiries continue.

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