Troops deploy as Britain goes on top terror alert

Britain deployed soldiers to key sites Wednesday and raised its terror alert to the maximum after the Manchester suicide bombing by a local man of Libyan origin who may have been radicalised in Syria.

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Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the attack that killed 22 people including a girl aged just eight.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre late Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

Investigators were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Manchester-born man of Libyan descent whose parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Moamer Kadhafi.

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

Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the bomber had “likely” been to Syria, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

Collomb told French television the suspect “grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalised and decided to carry out this attack”.

“In any case, the links with Daesh are proven,” he said, using a term for the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday.

British police and intelligence agencies have arrested three more suspects in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing.

Three more men arrested over bombing in Manchester

 

They said three men were arrested on Wednesday in south Manchester, where a day earlier a 22-year-old man was also arrested and a number of homes were searched following a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

 

Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the massacre that killed 22 people including one girl aged just eight.

More raids – and three more arrests – in #Manchester @SBSNews pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/Yv9gWbRHD8

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 24, 2017

Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the attack late Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

She said he had been known to security forces “up to a point”.

Security services were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Briton of Libyan descent, amid media reports he had travelled recently to Libya and possibly Syria.

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Rudd declined to give any further information about Abedi but told BBC radio: “It was a devastating occasion, it was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely – possible – that he wasn’t doing this on his own.”

The minister said she was “not surprised at all” that the attack had been claimed by the Islamic State group, but said there was no information yet to confirm the extremist organisation’s active direction.

Britain ordered soldiers to key sites on Wednesday after going on maximum alert for fear of an imminent new terror strike.

May raises UK threat level to ‘critical’ 0:00 Share

Prime Minister Theresa May placed the country on its highest level of terror alert – “critical” – for the first time since June 2007, following an attack on Glasgow Airport.

The last time troops were deployed on British streets was after an airliner plot in 2007.

Troops will fan out at sites such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster and foreign embassies in London to free up armed police for anti-terror duties.

May said a new attack “may be imminent” but the authorities stressed that the soldiers would remain under police command.

“This is a temporary arrangement in order to respond to an exceptional event,” Rudd said.

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The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.

A Polish couple living in Britain were confirmed among the Manchester victims, along with 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, whose mother had issued heartrending appeals for help when her daughter was still listed as missing.

Next to a photograph of Olivia, Charlotte Campbell wrote on Facebook: “RIP my darling precious gorgeous girl Olivia Campbell taken far far to soon go sing with the angels and keep smiling mummy loves you so much.”

A total of 59 people were taken to hospital, many with life-threatening conditions. Twelve of them were aged under 16.

British media said Abedi was born in Manchester and that his Libyan parents had fled the regime of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Police on Tuesday staged an armed raid on a Manchester address believed to be where Abedi lived, carrying out a controlled explosion to gain entry after arresting a 23-year-old man as part of the investigation.

Messages of hope at vigil

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Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

Britain’s best-selling newspaper The Sun carried pictures Wednesday of eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, who was killed in the attack, and of Abedi under the words “PURE” and “EVIL” respectively.

Monday’s attack came just over two weeks before Britain votes in a general election and campaigning remained suspended by all the main political parties.

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The plan for the troop deployment, which has never before been used and is codenamed Operation Temperer, was first revealed after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and is believed to allow up to 5,000 troops to be deployed.

France has already grown used to the sight of rifle-toting soldiers on the streets of its major cities under a state of emergency imposed after the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and elsewhere in Paris.

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British police had already announced extra security measures for upcoming sporting fixtures including Saturday’s FA Cup football final.

Manchester was the latest in a series of deadly incidents across Europe claimed by IS jihadists that have coincided with an offensive on the group’s redoubts in Syria and Iraq carried out by US, British and other Western forces.

@SBSNews The two prior critical UK terror threat levels (2006 and 2007) remained in place for less than a week @SBSNews pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/lBTGCR0WwN

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 23, 2017

In a city famed globally for its football teams and pop bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Take That, showbusiness stars and teams have joined political leaders worldwide in expressing their horror at the carnage.

“Words don’t really do justice for how we all feel. We’re numb,” Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said, ahead of Wednesday evening’s Europa League final against Amsterdam giants Ajax.

The players will wear black armbands for the game in Stockholm and a minute’s silence will be held.

In the city centre Tuesday evening, thousands gathered for a multi-faith vigil outside the town hall to remember the victims, with defiant chants of “Manchester! Manchester!” ringing around.

Witnesses describe Manchester attack

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