Anger over attack info leaks

British police stop sharing information with US, with premier to tackle president

British police stopped sharing information about the Manchester suicide bombing with the United States yesterday after leaks to US media that police said risked compromising their investigations.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she would tell US President Donald Trump that intelligence shared between their two countries had to remain secure, in a rare public show of dissatisfaction with Britain’s closest security ally.

Police are holding eight people in custody in connection with the attack at a packed concert hall, which killed 22 people. Manchester’s Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, said: “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.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said the bomber, Salman Abedi, might have made the bomb himself or with some assistance from an accomplice.

That was a change from previous thinking that a bomb-maker might be at large. “The focus is still the search for accomplices and the network, but he could have made this bomb himself,” the source said.

The official threat level in Britain was raised after the attack to critical, its highest level, meaning a further attack could be imminent.

Troops have been deployed to free up police officers for patrols and investigations, and yesterday the British Transport Police said armed officers would patrol trains for the first time.

Abedi, 22, who was born in Manchester to Libyan parents, had recently returned from Libya, according to Interior Minister Amber Rudd.

He blew himself up at the Manchester Arena indoor venue after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, whose fan base is made up largely of children and teenagers.

The victims ranged from an eight-year- old schoolgirl to parents who had come to pick up their children. The attack also injured 116 people, of whom 75 were admitted to hospital and 23 remain in a serious condition, health authorities said.

Hopkins said the leaks of details of the investigation to US media, which included forensic photographs of the bomb site published by the New York Times, had been hurtful to the victims’ families. May said she would talk to Trump at a Nato summit about the leaks.

“I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure,” she said.

The most senior US diplomat in Britain condemned the leaks as reprehensible and said the US government would take action to identify those responsible.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth has visited the Royal Manchester Child re n ’s Hospital, where some of the casualties have been treated.

The city’s two giant soccer clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City have jointly donated £1-million (R16.7-million) to an emergency fund set up to support families affected by the attack. – Reuters

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