Two more men were arrested today by the UK police after searches in Manchester in connection with a deadly suicide bombing at a pop concert this week, while a woman arrested last night was released without charges.
The latest arrests take the total number of men in custody over the terror attack to eight. All the previous arrests were made in and around Manchester where the suicide bombing took place on Monday night.
“We have been carrying out searches at an address in the Withington area and a man has been arrested. These searches are connected to Monday’s attack on the Manchester Arena. Another man has been arrested in the Manchester area in connection with this investigation, bringing the total number of men in custody to eight,” Greater Manchester Police said.
The woman, whose identity was not immediately known, was released without charges a few hours after her arrest last night in connection with the explosion, the deadlies terror attack in Britain since the 2005 London bombings.
The arrests came after detectives carried out a controlled explosion as they searched a property in the Moss Side area of Manchester in the early hours of Thursday. They continue to investigate the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, and his suspected links to a wider extremist “network”. His father, Ramadan Abedi, and brother, Hashim, have also been arrested in Libya.
Another brother, 23-year-old Ismail, was arrested on Tuesday in Manchester. The anti-terror force that took Hashim into custody in Libya said the teenager had confessed that both he and his brother, Salman, were members of the Islamic State group and that he “knew all the details” of the Manchester attack plot.
A spokesperson for the Libyan authorities told BBC: “His brother felt there was something going on there in Manchester and he thought his brother would do something like bombing or attack.”
Ramadan Abedi fled Tripoli in 1993 after Muammar Gaddafii’s security authorities issued an arrest warrant. He spent 25 years in Britain before returning to Libya in 2011 after Gaddafi was ousted and killed in the civil war.
Abedi is now a manager of the Central Security force in Tripoli. Earlier, Sky News had claimed that they have found evidence linking Salman Abedi to an Islamic State (ISIS) cell operating in Manchester.
The channel said its investigation reveals how Salman grew up on the same housing estates in south Manchester as a group of young men who radicalised each other – with some fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Information in so-called “IS Files” – a huge cache of documents obtained by ‘Sky News’ – shows how an ISIS fighter called Raphael Hostey, from Moss Side in the south of Manchester, sponsored hundreds of terror recruits.
Salman and Hostey hung around on the same estates and worshipped in the same Didsbury mosque in Manchester, before they reportedly became disaffected with life in the West.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to take up the issue of evidence leaks over the Manchester bombing in the US media with President Donald Trump when she meets him at a NATO summit in Brussels later on Thursday.
The leaks have opened a diplomatic row as UK officials are said to be “furious” that their investigation was compromised when photos appearing to show debris from the attack appeared in the ‘New York Times’.
Monday night’s attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people and injured 119. Sixty four injured still remain hospitalised.