Army members join police to increase security after the terror alert level was increased on May 24, 2017 in Westminster, London.
Photo credit: Dinendra Haria/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS
LONDON — The arrests of eight suspects still in custody on Thursday are “significant” in the investigation of the network behind the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.
Hopkins said searches at several addresses in Manchester and other areas have yielded “very important” items assisting the investigation of Monday’s attack, which killed 22 people and injured dozens.
“I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant, and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation,” he said.
Hopkins said leaked forensic photographs from the arena, published by the New York Times overnight, had “caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.”
But he declined to comment on reports that his force has stopped sharing intelligence on the Manchester attack with the United States.
Prime Minister Theresa May also criticized the leak, which followed the naming of the main suspect by U.S. media before British authorities.
May said she planned to “make clear” to President Donald Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels later Thursday that “intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”
The BBC said British officials were “outraged” by the publication of images of evidence recovered after Monday night’s attack.
The leak came after the name of the alleged attacker, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, was reported by US media on Tuesday, quoting US officials, before British police had released it publicly.
Abedi flew to Manchester via the German city of Dusseldorf, a German police spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Abedi was only in transit in Germany and local authorities in the state of North Rhine Westphalia have no evidence indicating that he had ties in the region.
Meanwhile, British police said they arrested two more men early Thursday in connection with the deadly attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
They carried out a controlled explosion — believed to be to force an entry — during a search at a property in the neighborhood of Moss Side. They also said they had released a woman without charge after she was arrested in Blackley.
Officials believe Abedi, who died after detonating explosives in Monday’s attack, was part of a network.
Most of the victims have now been named. They include an 8-year-old girl, a Polish couple, and at least six teenagers.
The attack was the deadliest in Britain since 2005, when 56 people were killed in an attack on the London transport system.
Thousands of people observed a one-minute silence at 11 am (1000 GMT) in Manchester, London and other British cities on Thursday to remember the victims of the attack.
Hundreds of people filled central Manchester’s St Ann’s Square, where flowers and other tributes were laid to remember the victims, with messages including “We stand together” and “We love you.”
Queen Elizabeth II visited several injured children at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on Thursday.
In an update on casualties, the National Health Service said 116 people were injured in the attack, with 75 treated in hospital, including 23 who remain in critical condition.
Copyright 2017 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Tribune News Service
SOURCE: DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR GMBH (HAMBURG, GERMANY) & Officer.com