News ‘I’d know those evil eyes any­where - he made my blood run cold’

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

A VAN driver has told how he came face-to-face with sui­cide bomber Sal­man Abedi in Nuneaton – just weeks be­fore the ter­ror at­tack in Manch­ester.

Less than 48 hours af­ter the mas­sacre that left 22 dead and around 60 oth­ers in­jured, po­lice ar­rested a man in Nuneaton and spent Thurs­day at a home in Earls Road.

And it has now emerged that Abedi may have been spot­ted in the town three months be­fore Mon­day night’s atroc­ity.

Eli­jah Nyamhdzadza, 40, says he bumped in to Abedi while look­ing for his dog in Fe­bru­ary and recog­nised the man be­hind the Manch­ester Arena af­ter see­ing cov­er­age in the pa­pers.

Mr Nyamhdzadza said: “I’d know those evil eyes any­where. He made my blood run cold.”

Re­call­ing the mo­ment he came face-to-face with the man who set off a bomb fol­low­ing an Ari­ana Grande con­cert in Manch­ester, Mr Nyamhdzadza said: “I’d lost my dog in the park near my home and was ask­ing peo­ple if they’d seen him.

“There were these three guys by the bas­ket­ball court.

“I went to them and said ‘have you seen my dog run­ning round here?.’ One then said ‘yes’ and even­tu­ally Django (the dog) saw me and came back, but I started talk­ing to them and got chat­ting to­gether.

“One of the guys started a con­ver­sa­tion about re­li­gion, and the dif­fer­ences in our re­li­gions.

“There were two younger ones, 18, 19 like, and a big­ger skinny one.

“They were telling me how they all came from Libya. I told them I was from Zim­babwe. They were very cu­ri­ous about me.

“One of the younger ones pointed at my head and asked me ‘what do you call this?’

“I said it was a tur­ban, and they started ask­ing me why I was wear­ing it.

“I said that I was a Rasta­far­ian, and they were ask­ing about what it means.

“They started to tell me about Is­lam, and we were shar­ing for about 40 min­utes.”

He says that while chat­ting with the younger guys, Abedi was “ag­gres­sive and kept talk­ing rapidly in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage”.

He added: “You can sense some­times when a per­son doesn’t like you, and I could tell.

“He had a very red face, his cheeks were puff­ing out and he was not happy.

“His eyes were big as well, look­ing straight at me.

“I had said noth­ing to him then, so I don’t know why he was be­ing like that to me.

“I thought that there must have been some­thing wrong with him, it was un­nat­u­ral.”

At one point Mr Nyamhdzadza thought Abedi was go­ing to hit him af­ter mak­ing “a quick move­ment to­wards me, but even­tu­ally he was calmed down”.

And Mr Nyamhdzadza couldn’t be­lieve his eyes when he re­alised the very same man he says he saw in Nuneaton was re­spon­si­ble for Mon­day night’s ter­ror at­tack.

“When I saw him to­day I said ‘this is the man I saw!’. It looks ex­actly the same as him. I am 100 per cent sure it was Abedi,” he said.

The man ar­rested in Nuneaton re­mains in po­lice cus­tody this evening, while of­fi­cers were seen re­mov­ing nu­mer­ous ev­i­dence bags and boxes from an ad­dress in Earls Road ear­lier to­day.

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