Explosion heard as police carry out raid in Manchester

Residents report explosions and screams during counter-terrorism raid in Moss Side

A local woman speaks to a police officer  in the Moss Side area of Manchester where a raid was carried out on Sunday following last week's terrorist attack on Manchester Arena that killed 22 people. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

A local woman speaks to a police officer in the Moss Side area of Manchester where a raid was carried out on Sunday following last week's terrorist attack on Manchester Arena that killed 22 people. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

 

Screams and an explosion have been heard as armed police raided another property in Manchester following last week’s suicide bomb attack on Manchester Arena.

Residents reported hearing explosions near Quantock Close and Selworth Road in the Moss Side area shortly before 2pm on Sunday. Dogs were seen at the scene and police closed off roads in the area. The street was cordoned off and shouts could be heard at about 3pm as a man was held on the ground at gunpoint before being put in a police van. Neighbours said the family in the raided house were Libyan.

The raid came six days after the attack at Manchester Arena carried out by Salman Abedi, which killed 22 people and injured dozens more.

Fourteen people have now been arrested in connection with the investigation, two of whom have since been released without charge. Twelve men remain in custody for questioning.

Shortly after the raid in Moss Side, police released a statement saying they had also arrested a 25-year-old man in the Old Trafford area on suspicion of offences contrary to the Terrorism Act.

Stephen Cawley, who lives on the Moss Side street where the raid took place, said his neighbours’ children had been taken away by police. Two brothers, believed to be aged about 19 and 15, were taken from the Sadigh household while the eldest son, aged 24, was forced to the ground and had a gun pointed to his head, neighbours said. All men were later released.

‘Police brutality’

One resident said they heard one of the boys complaining about “police brutality” before walking down the street.

The teenagers’ parents were being spoken to by police in a car parked on the road. The whereabouts of their two youngest siblings, a boy and a girl, were not known.

Mr Cawley said the family had lived in the house for about a decade. He described the father as a handyman and said the family were “no trouble”.

He said: “Me and my wife were sat in the kitchen and we heard what sounded like a bomb going off. It frightened the life out of us. It was so scary. Just such a loud bang and then there was the army and police everywhere and dogs.

“It was the eldest lad who had the gun pointed at his head because he was resisting – but then they let him go. The other two have been taken in and the mum and dad are sat in a car opposite.

“We’re not allowed to leave the house. My grandchildren were meant to be coming round for Sunday dinner but we’ve been told to cancel everything and stay inside.”

One of the boys who is thought to have been arrested changed his Facebook profile picture to include the message “#PrayforManchester We are with you!” on Saturday night.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester police said: “During the search, three men were arrested on suspicion of offences contrary to the Terrorism Act but were soon after de-arrested.”

Images posted on social media showed armed officers in Moss Side amid reports of an explosion. Police would not comment on whether a controlled blast was used to gain entrance to the property, a tactic used on previous raids.

One resident wrote on Twitter: “There was an explosion about half an hour ago on Selworthy Road, Moss Side. There is armed police and dogs surrounding the area.”

A CCTV photograph released by Greater Manchester Police shows Salman Abedi on the night he committed the atrocity at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
A CCTV photograph released by Greater Manchester Police shows Salman Abedi on the night he committed the atrocity at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people and injured dozens of others. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Critical care

As the huge counter-terror operation continued, the NHS said 54 people injured in the attack were still being treated in eight hospitals, with 19 receiving critical care. A total of 116 people required hospital care, police previously said.

The latest police operation came just hours after the home secretary said members of Abedi’s terror network could still be at large. Amber Rudd said parts of the suicide bomber’s circle were “potentially” unaccounted for, despite optimism that a previous wave of arrests had quelled further threats.

On Saturday night, police issued CCTV stills of Abedi, wearing glasses and casual clothes, in a plea for information about his movements between May 18th and the attack. Hours after he was captured on camera, the 22-year-old was dead, having attacked a concert by American singer Ariana Grande attended predominantly by young girls.

The huge police response that followed involved raids in several cities as counter-terror efforts focused on cornering his suspected criminal ring.

It is understood that investigators believe Abedi had help in storing the materials, buying the chemicals to make the homemade explosive, and obtaining bolts and screws that were wrapped around the device. The metal shrapnel was particularly deadly, with the force of the explosion causing a spray of lethal projectiles in the foyer of the Manchester Arena.

It is also believed that Abedi had assistance in designing the device and that it is unlikely he merely got instructions from the internet. He was involved in building the device and may have had help in this, or may have built it wholly on his own at a rented flat in Granby Street, in Manchester city centre.

Main players

The pursuit of members of the wider network that helped Abedi continues. Investigators believe they have the main players in custody and have accounted for all the known materials used to make the explosive device.

At other addresses, “dual use” items – those with everyday as well as dangerous applications – such as wire-strippers have been found.

The hunt continues for suspected less-important conspirators as soldiers deployed on the streets prepare to return to barracks after the UK’s terror threat level was reduced from critical to severe.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer, said on Saturday: “We are getting a greater understanding of the preparation of the bomb. There will be more searches but the greater clarity and progress has led JTAC [Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre], the independent body which assesses threat, to the judgment that an attack is no longer imminent.”

Those in custody are Abedi’s family members, friends, people with Libyan heritage and others. Criminal charges are expected against some of those detained.

– Guardian service