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Two children found with throats cut in Salem

Mother in custody after apartment fire

SALEM — A Salem mother was in custody early Monday morning after she set her apartment on fire and slashed her two young children in the throat, officials said.

She faces a possible charge of attempted murder, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The children were taken to Children’s Hospital Boston, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney’s office. She said that the mother was in custody, but did not say why, and did not comment on the children’s injuries.

An official at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity said that each child had been cut once in the throat.

The children are ages 3 and 8, said Lieutenant Scott Englehardt of the Salem police.

Richard Thomas, a Salem Fire Department spokesman, said the children were found in adjacent seventh-floor apartments, one of which was filled with heavy smoke. Thomas said no adult was present when the children were found.

Speaking early Monday morning, Thomas said the two children were “in very serious condition.”

‘‘It was a horrific scene,’’ he said. “They have significant life-threatening injuries.”

Salem firefighters were responding to reports of a smoke alarm going off at 8:51 p.m. Sunday at Salem Heights Apartments on Pope Street when they found the two young children, said Lieutenant Scott Hebert of the city fire department.

Firefighters, worried they would need to evacuate the 283-unit apartment building, called Salem police for assistance at around 9 p.m., said Englehardt.

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