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Owner of fire-bombed restaurant dies


February 18, 2008
By The Canadian Press

Feb. 18, 2008, Vancouver - There is a strange and tragic twist in the investigation of the arson attack and explosion that destroyed two businesses in downtown Vancouver last week.

Manjeet Nanda, co-owner of the Taco Del Mar restaurant targeted by the arson, has been found dead near Squamish, B.C. RCMP confirm a note was found and her family was advised.

"It's difficult to confirm it was a suicide until we get the autopsy results," said Cpl. Dave Ritchie of the Squamish police detachment.

Nanda was reported as a missing person last week shortly after she told the media she didn't know why someone would target her restaurant for arson.

Vancouver police Const. Tim Fanning said it's a tragic scenario.

"This family has lost their business, and now a loss of life – a mother of three. It's extremely tragic."

The 42-year-old woman's body was found Friday, floating in the waters of Howe Sound. It wasn't far from where her vehicle was parked on the side of the Sea to Sky Highway.

The blast and fire early Wednesday morning shook people awake as far as two kilometres away.The explosion destroyed the restaurant along with the Starbucks next door and blew out several windows in nearby businesses.

The damage is estimated at about $2 million.

Fanning said Nanda was questioned by investigators last week.

"It's a very big investigation," he said. "There's a lot of evidence to go through, both with video tapes, witnesses. There's a lot of science behind this."

Police still haven't questioned the suspect believed to have set off the blast and fire.

He remains in hospital with burns to 40 per cent of his body.

Fanning said the man is expected to remain in hospital between one and two months.

"When we're actually able to speak to him and find out his side of the story could be some time."
Normally police don't report suspected suicides, but Ritchie said police made a statement because of the extended investigation.

Ritchie repeated that a suicide hasn't been confirmed.

"There's always that off chance that something was well planned and well manipulated. But generally we will find evidence in an autopsy."