Manchester terror attack

More arrests as police search for co-plotters

An army bomb disposal unit at a security operation at Springfield Street in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on May 25, 2017.
An army bomb disposal unit at a security operation at Springfield Street in Wigan, Greater Manchester, on May 25, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Investigation extended to Libya and Germany, where bomber may have had links to extremists

MANCHESTER • Britain closed in on an extremist network thought to be behind the Manchester concert attack, as grief mixed with defiance over the massacre.

Yesterday, police accelerated their hunt for co-plotters of the bombing, making more arrests, searching for a possible clandestine bomb factory and extending the investigation to Libya.

The shell-shocked country also came to a halt for a minute's silence yesterday morning to remember the 22 concert-goers who were killed in the latest atrocity claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to hit Europe.

As more children were named among the victims of Monday's massacre, the Libyan authorities detained the suicide bomber's father as well as one of his brothers, while police in Britain carried out fresh arrests and raids.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

Emotions were still raw in the north-western city, three days after Salman Abedi's attack on the concert by US pop star Ariana Grande - especially so as the bomber was born in the city.

As the nation mourned, Queen Elizabeth II visited children injured in the attack at a hospital in Manchester. "It is dreadful. Very wicked to target that sort of thing," she told Evie Mills, 14, and her parents.

But Manchester United fans stood together in defiant mood as their team's triumph in European football's Europa League final brought some much-needed smiles to a city still in pain. The club dedicated their trophy to those killed, while manager Jose Mourinho said they would gladly exchange it if it could bring their lives back.

In the city, police carried out a controlled explosion during a raid in the early hours of yesterday.

British police have so far arrested eight people suspected of involvement in the attack.

A bomb disposal unit was also called to the south-west of Manchester to investigate a suspicious package.

The police later said that the area had been "deemed safe".

In Germany, a security official said the bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, had been in Dusseldorf four days before the bombing.

The development signalled an expansion of an investigation that has already stretched to North Africa and continental Europe.

The authorities are investigating whether Abedi had possible contacts with extremists in Germany, including during a 2015 visit to Frankfurt, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Abedi was en route back to Britain from Istanbul when he stopped off in Dusseldorf.

Abedi reportedly returned from Libya only a few days before the attack, but police are still trying to pin down his movements as well as a wider network.

A spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force, which acts as Libya's Government of National Accord's police, said the brother was aware of Abedi's plan and that the siblings were both members of ISIS .

Abedi's brother, Hashem, had been "under surveillance for a month and a half", and "investigation teams supplied intelligence that he was planning a terrorist attack in the capital Tripoli", the Special Deterrence Force said on its Facebook page.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'More arrests as police search for co-plotters'. Print Edition | Subscribe