UK warns that Manchester bombing members could still be at large

Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, captured on CCTV footage on the night of the attack. The public has been told to stay vigilant against further attacks.
Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, captured on CCTV footage on the night of the attack. The public has been told to stay vigilant against further attacks.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER • British police have released closed-circuit television footage of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi on the night of the attack, as Interior Minister Amber Rudd warned that members of the bomber's network are still potentially at large.

Police, who said they have arrested a large part of the network behind the bombing which killed 22 people at a concert hall last Monday night, nabbed a 25-year-old man yesterday.

This brings to 14 the total number of suspects - 12 in British custody and two - Abedi's father and brother - in Libya.

Asked during an interview on BBC television earlier whether some of the group were still at large, Ms Rudd said: "Potentially. It is an ongoing operation. There are 11 people in custody; the operation is still really at full tilt in a way."

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Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday that developments in the probe into the bombing meant intelligence experts had decided to lower the threat level from its highest rating "critical", meaning an attack could be imminent, to "severe", meaning an attack is highly likely.

Investigators gave details of Abedi's last hours as they released photographs from security cameras showing the black-clad suicide bomber wearing jeans and trainers, a black top and baseball cap, with the straps of his backpack visible on his shoulders.

The 22-year-old, of Libyan origin, was born in the north-western English city. The police said one of the last places he went to was a "city centre flat, and from there he left to make his way to the Manchester Arena", where the attack took place.

"The flat is highly relevant as a location which we believe may be the final assembly place for the device."

A third of those killed in last Monday's bombing after a pop concert were children, and another 116 people were injured. The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Yesterday morning, thousands defied the terror threat to take part in the Great Manchester Run.

There was a highly visible police presence as about 40,000 runners gathered at the start line. They fell silent as the clocks struck 9am (4pm Singapore time). This was followed by sustained applause as the song Don't Look Back In Anger by British band Oasis, who are from Manchester, played over the public address system, sparking a sing-a- long.

"After everything that has happened in Manchester, to get everyone to come together, stand united, don't let them win, that is why I am doing it," said runner Ian McLellan.

Besides lowering the threat level to severe, Mrs May said troops would be withdrawn from the streets, another measure that was adopted after the bombing. "We should be clear about what this means: A threat level of severe means an attack is highly likely. The country should remain vigilant," she said.

Operation Temperer, which involved the deployment of troops on patrol alongside police, will be wound down tonight, at the end of the bank holiday weekend.

"From midnight on Monday, there will be a well-planned and gradual withdrawal of members of the armed forces, who will return to normal duties," she said.

Mrs May has seen her polling lead against Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn dwindle as campaigning resumed ahead of next week's general election on Thursday, with her rival accusing her of overseeing a cut in police staff while she was interior minister.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'UK warns that Manchester bombing members could still be at large'. Print Edition | Subscribe