Man­hunt in Manch­ester

‘So­phis­ti­cated de­vice’ shows Abedi had help, say ex­perts as ten­sion re­mains

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD -

AF­TER the dead­li­est ter­ror at­tack in Britain since July 2005, a new poll in­di­cated that Labour had closed to five points be­hind Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s Conservative Party, with po­lice bud­gets and for­eign pol­icy emerg­ing as key cam­paign is­sues.

Armed po­lice, backed up by the army, are pa­trolling cities and trains, and hospi­tals have been warned to be ready.

Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said the threat level re­mained at its high­est level, “crit­i­cal“, mean­ing an at­tack is ex­pected im­mi­nently.

“JTAC [the Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­tre] has as­sessed that the level of threat should re­main at crit­i­cal while the op­er­a­tion con­tin­ues,” Rudd said. “The pub­lic should be in no doubt that there is a large threat.”

Rudd and security ex­perts have re­vealed that the ex­plo­sive de­vice was highly so­phis­ti­cated.

How­ever, Security Min­is­ter Ben Wal­lace said there was no ev­i­dence of a spe­cific threat over this holiday week­end, when a num­ber of ma­jor events take place, in­clud­ing to­day’s soc­cer FA Cup fi­nal in Lon­don, where ex­tra armed of­fi­cers will be on duty.

In Manch­ester, po­lice hunt­ing for a sus­pected Is­lamist net­work be­hind Sal­man Abedi, the 22-year-old Bri­tish-born man with Libyan par­ents who blew him­self up af­ter a con­cert by US singer Ari­ana Grande, were ques­tion­ing eight men aged be­tween 18 and 38.

On his first of­fi­cial trip to Britain as US sec­re­tary of state, Rex Tiller­son said “all across Amer­ica, hearts are bro­ken” by the Manch­ester at­tack.

Bri­tish po­lice briefly sus­pended shar­ing in­tel­li­gence with the US on Thurs­day af­ter con­fi­den­tial de­tails of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­peat­edly ap- peared in Amer­i­can me­dia.

For the first time since the at­tack, politi­cians re­sumed cam­paign­ing on a na­tional scale for the June 8 vote as an opin­ion poll found the Con­ser­va­tives’ lead, once as much as 23 per­cent­age points, had shrunk to just five.

May called the snap elec­tion to strengthen her hand in ne­go­ti­a­tions on Britain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn said Britain’s in­volve­ment in for­eign wars had in­creased the threat of ter­ror­ism. He was also highly crit­i­cal of cuts in the po­lice force.

Rudd said counter-ter­ror­ism was ad­e­quately re­sourced, and de­nied that po­lice cuts had made it harder to pre­vent Mon­day’s at­tack.

But she con­ceded that the at­tack had been “more so­phis­ti­cated than some of the at­tacks we’ve seen be­fore”.

Abedi used a pow­er­ful ex­plo­sive de­vice that was

PHO­TO­GRAPH: REUTERS

IN MEM­ORY: Some of the tributes to the vic­tims of the at­tack on the Manch­ester Arena

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