Counter-terror police hunting potential accomplices to the Manchester suicide bombing have carried out fresh raids and made an arrest. A search of an address in St Helens, Merseyside, concluded on Friday morning, police said, although it remained unclear how it was connected to the atrocity at Manchester Arena carried out by Salman Abedi.
The total number of arrests connected to the terror attack rose to 10 when a man was detained in the Moss Side area of Manchester in the early hours of the morning. Eight men are now in custody, while a man and a woman, held following searches in the Manchester suburbs of Withington and Blackley, have been released.
Police previously carried out raids on properties across Manchester, which saw five arrests in the south of the city, in Wigan where one arrest was made and Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where another man was detained.
On Friday morning, a cordon was in place around the Fade Away barbershop in Princess Road, near to the junction of Claremont Road, Moss Side.
The shutters were down on the shop but part of it appeared to have been smashed open to gain access to the front door. It is understood that an armed response unit arrived in Princess Road in the early hours of the morning and that the shutter to the barbershop was cut open at about 5.15am. A cordon was then placed around the building at 6am, which stretches to an adjoining chemist, cafe and upstairs flats.
Police have yet to confirm if the raid is in connection with the ongoing investigation into Monday’s suicide bombing.
Police previously hailed the “significant” arrests made and the “very important” items seized in raids as they attempt to close the net on Abedi’s suspected terror network. Elsewhere, security minister Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was no specific threat against an individual event at the moment.
He also said that standby notices issued to NHS staff – which means health organisations have to be on alert in the run-up to the bank holiday in case of another attack – were precautionary. Mr Wallace went on to add that the scale of the challenge was the major issue facing security services and the sheer volume of people needing to be assessed.
Whitehall sources revealed on Thursday that security services are managing around 500 active investigations relating to 3,000 people of interest. “All those people are in the mix and they have to be looked at,” said Mr Wallace. “And then below the 3,000 is another 12,000 people who have in the past come to our attention and haven’t necessarily shown signs of doing anything at all, or no longer posing a risk.
“All of that is predominately underpinned by intelligence, which as I’m sure you will understand and the courts certainly understand, unfortunately the hardest part is we’ve got to convert intelligence into evidence if we actually want to deprive people of their liberty or take certain steps.” The General Election campaign relaunches after three days – with Jeremy Corbyn expected to bring the issue of terrorism into the political arena.
The Labour leader will make a veiled attack on the Conservatives for underfunding the police service at a time of heightened threat, while linking Britain’s overseas military campaigns with terrorism at home.
On Thursday, UK police resumed “working closely” with US authorities on the probe after a tense showdown between the allies over leaked intelligence.
Mark Rowley, the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, confirmed British chiefs had “received fresh assurances” from their overseas counterparts that they could be trusted with confidential material. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she expected the “critical” assessment of the terror threat – suggesting a fresh attack may be imminent – to remain in place in the coming days.
Ms Rudd told BBC1’s Question Time: “During this period of ‘critical’, which we hope will only last for a few days – it could be longer, it will depend on the operation – we’ve pulled out additional support from the Army so we can go about our normal life.” Abedi, who was known to security services for his radical views, was said to have been in close contact with family members moments before slaughtering concert-goers on Monday.
A relative of the 22-year-old said he had felt increasing frustration at his treatment in the UK, heightened after a friend was fatally knifed in what he perceived to be a religious hate crime.
She added that the British-born bomber began referring to others in the country as “infidels” who were “unjust to Arabs”.
Libyan authorities, who are questioning Abedi’s parents and siblings, claimed he made a final phone call to his mother on the eve of the attack, in which he said: “Forgive me.” Music fans were targeted at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in the worst terrorist attack on British soil since the July 7 bombing in London in 2005.