British Police Arrest Fifth Suspect In Manchester Attack Probe
RFE/RL May 24, 2017
British police say they have arrested a fifth person in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 people, some of them children.
Greater Manchester Police said the suspect was arrested in Wigan, a town to the west of Manchester.
During his arrest, the man was carrying a package that is now being assessed, they added.
The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the May 22 attack, in which a suicide bomber set off explosives as concertgoers were leaving Manchester Arena.
The bomber was identified as Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old born in Manchester to parents of Libyan descent.
One of his brothers, Ismael, was among the five detained in Britain in connection with the bombing. Reports from Libya said another brother and his father were also arrested in the capital, Tripoli.
Earlier, British police said they were investigating a "network" in connection with the attack.
"I think it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating," Ian Hopkins, head of Greater Manchester Police, said on May 24, adding that police were carrying out "extensive searches" across Manchester.
British Interior Minister Amber Rudd earlier said the attack was "more sophisticated than some of the attacks we've seen before, and it seems likely -- possible -- that [the bomber] wasn't doing this on his own."
Rudd told BBC radio it appeared that Salman Abedi had recently returned from Libya.
"Yes, I believe that has been confirmed," she said. "When this operation is over, we will want to look at his background and what happened, how he became radicalized, and what support he might have been given."
The IS group said it targeted "crusaders" in the attack, which was carried out by "one of the caliphate's soldiers" -- wording that leaves the extent of the perpetrator's alleged ties with the group unclear.
Rudd said she was "not surprised at all" that IS claimed responsibility for the attack, but that there was no information yet to confirm the organization's active direction.
Soldiers In The Streets
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that Abedi was believed to have traveled to Syria and had "proven" links with the IS group.
Britain's national terror-threat level was raised late on May 23 to "critical," meaning another attack may be imminent.
Rudd said that up to 3,800 military personnel would be deployed on Britain's streets following the bombing, which was carried out as concertgoers -- many of them teenagers and younger children -- were leaving a show by American pop singer Ariana Grande.
London police said on May 24 they would be calling in the army to help guard key landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and foreign embassies.
The last time British troops were deployed on the streets was after an airliner plot in 2007.
The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers attacked London's transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.
Children Among Dead, Critically Wounded
The attack in Manchester has drawn particular international condemnation because children were targeted.
The victims included 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos; Nell Jones, 14; Sorrell Leczkowski, also 14; and Olivia Campbell, 15.
Police said an off-duty policewoman was among the victims.
A Polish couple were also confirmed among the dead.
A British health official said on May 24 that about 20 people remained in critical condition.
"We are now treating 64 individuals.... Of those, approximately 20 are receiving critical care. That means very urgent care," Jon Rouse, chief officer for health and social care services in the greater Manchester area, told Sky News.
"There is damage to major organs, major injuries in terms of limbs, and some of these individuals are going to need very long-term care and support. These are highly traumatic injuries," he said.
Authorities had earlier said that 59 people were taken to hospitals, many with life-threatening injuries, and that 12 of them were under 16 years old.
Late on May 23, thousands of people gathered at Albert Square in central Manchester to mourn the dead, a display of defiance and solidarity in the face of the attack and the persistent threat.
"The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier than the sick plots of depraved terrorists," May said in London on May 23. "That is why the terrorists will never win, and we will prevail."
With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and the BBC
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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