British police make seventh arrest in Manchester

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Libya has arrested a brother and the father of the man suspected of carrying out the bombing in the British city of Manchester, a relative and security sources said Wednesday.

British police confirmed as well the arrest of a seventh person.

The family source, asking not to be identified, said intelligence services had arrested Hashem Abedi, who like his older brother Salman was born in Britain, on Tuesday.

“The father, Ramadan Abedi, has also just been arrested,” said Ahmed bin Salem, a spokesman for the police of Libya’s Government of National Accord.

The father of the bomber who killed 22 concert-goers in an attack in Manchester told Reuters in the Libyan capital on Wednesday that he had last spoken to his son some five days ago, by phone, and “everything was normal”.

Ramadan Abedi, who was detained by a Tripoli counter-terrorism force during the interview, said his son Salman had told his family that he was heading on pilgrimage to Mecca.

“I spoke to him about five days ago ... there was nothing wrong, everything was normal,” Abedi said.

Abedi also said he was sure Salman had not been a member of Islamic State.

“Salman doesn’t belong to any organization,” he said. “The family is a bit confused because Salman doesn’t have this ideology, he doesn’t hold these beliefs.”

“We condemn these terrorist acts on civilians, innocent people.”

Police officers look at flowers and messages in central Manchester. (Reuters)
Police officers look at flowers and messages in central Manchester. (Reuters)

British police also arrested a woman in Manchester on Wednesday as part of their investigation into a terror attack at a pop concert in the city, bringing the total number of arrests to five men and one woman.

"A woman has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation" following searches in Blackley, an area north of the city centre, a police spokeswoman said.

British police arrested a seventh person Wednesday in connection with the massacre at a Manchester pop concert that left 22 people dead.

The arrest was made following searches at an address in the town of Nuneaton in central England, and is the first outside the Manchester area.

“This evening we have been carrying out searches at an address in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and arrested a man,” the Greater Manchester Police force said in a statement.

“These searches are connected to Monday's attack on the Manchester Arena, but this is a fast-moving investigation and we are keeping an open mind at this stage.

“As it stands, six men and one woman have been arrested in conjunction with the investigation and remain in custody for questioning.”

All the previous arrests were made in and around Manchester in northwest England where the suicide bombing took place.

After arresting a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, police said they had taken three more men into custody on Wednesday in south

Manchester, the area where Abedi lived.
A fifth man who was carrying a suspect package was then detained in Wigan, northwest of the city.

The bomb used in the Manchester attack Monday packed a powerful charge together with a shrapnel of nuts and screws meticulously arranged for maximum damage, according to photographs published by the New York Times.

The Times published eight exclusive pictures, which were unsourced but appeared to be police photographs taken at the Manchester Arena, where 22 people were killed while emerging from an Ariana Grande concert.

Initial analysis of the various elements photographed at the scene suggests that suicide bomber Salman Abedi carried “an improvised device made with forethought and care,” concealed most likely within a backpack but also possibly in a vest, wrote the paper.

The images notably suggest the suicide bomber or a possible team helping him had a remote detonator setup, to back up a hand-held detonator found at the scene.

The newspaper said there were no initial details of the type and strength of the explosive used in the attack.

But, combined with the location of the bodies of those struck by the bomb, and the remains of the bomber himself, the Times said, “All of these are indicators of a powerful, high-velocity charge, and of a bomb in which its shrapnel was carefully and evenly packed.”

The images showed shreds of a blue Karrimor backpack, metal screws and nuts, the remains of a strong battery, and the apparent hand-held detonator with wires coming from it.

The detonator also appeared to have a small circuit board inside it, the Times said, which may have linked it to the backup detonation system.

“Such redundancy could give the bomber or a cell more than one option for deploying the device, and further suggests that the bomb was not as simple in design as many terrorist devices, which often are crude and prone to failure or haphazard effect,” the Times said.

سلمان العبيدي
سلمان العبيدي

The police have named the Manchester Arena suicide bomber earlier.

22-year-old Salman Abedi of Libyan origins was born in Manchester in 1994, Abedi was the second youngest of four children and his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Qaddafi regime, British media reported. Abedi had two brothers and a sister, who is now 18-years-old.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Monday night carnage, but a top American intelligence official said the claim could not be verified.