Monday 24 July 2017

Man arrested as anti-terror police carry out new raids in Manchester bomb probe

Authorities identified Salman Abedi as the bomber who was responsible for Monday's explosion in Manchester. (AP)
Authorities identified Salman Abedi as the bomber who was responsible for Monday's explosion in Manchester. (AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Counter-terror police investigating the Manchester Arena bombing have carried out fresh raids, searching addresses in Manchester and Merseyside.

One man was arrested in the Moss Side area of Manchester in the early hours of Friday morning and detectives searched a property in St Helens.

Eight men are in custody in connection with Monday's atrocity, with police and security agencies working at pace amid fears of further attacks.

The men are all suspected of terror offences and are aged between 18 and 38, Greater Manchester Police said.

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

A 16-year-old boy has been released without charge.

Meanwhile, with the General Election campaign due to resume on Friday, Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his intention to bring the issue of terrorism into the political arena.

The Labour leader is expected to make a veiled attack on the Conservatives for underfunding the police service at a time of heightened threat, while linking Britain's overseas military campaigns with terrorism at home.

On Thursday, UK police resumed "working closely" with US authorities on the probe after a tense showdown between the allies over leaked intelligence.

With Britain on critical alert, a huge operation is under way to dismantle a suspected "network" linked to suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people, seven of them under 18.

Mark Rowley, the UK's most senior counter-terrorism officer, confirmed British chiefs had "received fresh assurances" from their overseas counterparts that they could be trusted with confidential material.

Pictured left to right; Olivia Campbell, John Atkinson, Saffie Rose Roussos, Georgina Bethany Callander
Pictured left to right; Olivia Campbell, John Atkinson, Saffie Rose Roussos, Georgina Bethany Callander

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she expected the "critical" assessment of the terror threat - suggesting a fresh attack may be imminent - to remain in place in the coming days.

Ms Rudd told BBC1's Question Time: "During this period of 'critical', which we hope will only last for a few days - it could be longer, it will depend on the operation - we've pulled out additional support from the Army so we can go about our normal life."

The developments followed a fraught day in which Greater Manchester Police severed intelligence-sharing ties with the US due to evidence being repeatedly passed to journalists without permission.

"While we do not usually comment on information-sharing arrangements with international law enforcement organisations, we want to emphasise that, having received fresh assurances, we are now working closely with our key partners around the world including all those in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance," Mr Rowley said.

Read More: Manchester terror attack: British police 'working closely' with US again after 'fresh assurances'

Abedi, who was known to security services for his radical views, was said to have been in close contact with family members moments before slaughtering concert-goers on Monday.

Crowds look at the floral tributes after a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester, to remember the victims of the terror attack. Picture: PA
Crowds look at the floral tributes after a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester, to remember the victims of the terror attack. Picture: PA

A relative of the 22-year-old said he had felt increasing frustration at his treatment in the UK, heightened after a friend was fatally knifed in what he perceived to be a religious hate crime.

She added that the British-born bomber began referring to others in the country as "infidels" who were "unjust to Arabs".

Libyan authorities, who are questioning Abedi's parents and siblings, claimed he made a final phone call to his mother on the eve of the attack, in which he said: "Forgive me."

Music fans were targeted at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in the worst terrorist attack on British soil since the July 7 bombing in London in 2005.

As Abedi's route to mass murder continued to be probed:

  • Downing Street announced the Government's emergency Cobra committee will meet in Whitehall on Friday morning to discuss the latest developments, chaired by the Home Secretary.
  • Officers also carried out searches at properties in Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton. A bomb disposal unit returned to the Wigan address on Thursday night so experts could examine "potentially suspicious items".
  • British investigative efforts remained focused on smashing the potential terror ring which may have assisted Abedi, despite the belief of Libyan authorities that he acted alone.
  • Twenty-three people remained in critical care across eight hospitals. They included five children at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.
  • British Transport Police announced that specialist firearms officers are to patrol on trains nationwide for the first time.
  • NHS England warned health organisations to "ensure care is in place should it be needed" as Britain remained on high alert in the run-up to the bank holiday weekend.
  • A man and a woman arrested as part of the probe were released without charge.

Read More: Manchester terror attack bomber 'called mother to say forgive me'

Laura MacIntyre, who is battling for her life after the Manchester attack Credit: Greater Manchester Police/PA Wire
Laura MacIntyre, who is battling for her life after the Manchester attack Credit: Greater Manchester Police/PA Wire

At the Nato summit in Brussels, Theresa May confronted Donald Trump with her concerns about security lapses which allowed crucial evidence to be handed to US journalists by his officials.

He vowed to investigate, calling the leaks "deeply troubling" and warning the sources of the security lapse could be prosecuted.

In the years leading up to Monday's attack, it was said Abedi was known to security services, but his risk to the public remained "subject to review" and MI5 considered him a "former subject of interest", a Whitehall source said.

Police hunting the "network" behind his attack said they had made "significant" arrests and seized "very important" items in raids.

Emergency services on the night and aftermath of the Manchester attack were criticised by the widower of one victim, who accused them of leaving families in the dark.

Steve Howe, whose wife Alison, 45, died as she was waiting to collect their daughter from the concert, told Channel 4 News: "I gave them all the details, all the information from security in the arena, no-one has rang us... I was so frustrated."

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