‘Key players’ arrested in Manchester bomb investigation

Police make ‘immense progress’ with eight people in custody as security remains tight

Armed police officers walk behind the Changing the Guard ceremony outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Armed police officers walk behind the Changing the Guard ceremony outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

 

Detectives have made “immense” progress in the investigation into the Manchester bombing and are confident they have arrested some “key players”, Britain’s top counter-terror officer has said.

Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said police have made “significant” arrests and “finds” and have got hold of a “large part of the network” being sought over the atrocity.

Mr Rowley said: “They are very significant, these arrests.

“We are very happy we’ve got our hands around some of the key players that we are concerned about but there’s still a little bit more to do.”

Mr Rowley disclosed that police have reviewed security at more than 1,300 events around the country ahead of the bank holiday weekend. Britain remains at the highest threat level of critical, meaning an attack could be imminent.

Six of the victims, clockwise from top left: Olivia Campbell (15), Saffie Rose Roussos (8), Sorrell Leczkowski (14), Georgina Callander (18) pictures with Ariana Grande, Eilidh MacLeod (14) and John Atkinson (26).
Six of the victims, clockwise from top left: Olivia Campbell (15), Saffie Rose Roussos (8), Sorrell Leczkowski (14), Georgina Callander (18) pictures with Ariana Grande, Eilidh MacLeod (14) and John Atkinson (26).

The senior officer issued a message of reassurance to the public. “Go out as you planned. Enjoy yourselves and be reassured by the greater policing presence you will see. “We can’t let the terrorists win by dissuading us from going about our normal business.”

Twenty-two people were killed when Salman Abedi launched a suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night.

It was the worst terrorist atrocity to hit Britain since the July 7th attacks in London in 2005 and sparked a huge counter-terror investigation.

Since Tuesday a total of 10 people have been arrested, with eight remaining in custody.

Two were released without charge.

‘Much better understanding’

Providing an update on the investigation, Mr Rowley said it was likely further arrests would follow.

He said: “Having made enormous progress and made some significant arrests and had some significant finds, there still remain important lines of inquiry for us to pursue.

“We’ve got to try to understand everything we can about the dead terrorist, his associates.

“We need to understand the whole network and how they acquired and built the bomb that exploded on Monday night.

“It’s going to take a little more time to close down those gaps in our understanding.

“We are working as fast as we can do because everyone wants answers to this.”

He said police now have a “much better understanding” of what happened.

Extra armed police will guard major sporting events this weekend after the military was drafted in to protect key locations.

Soldiers have been stationed at sites including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, freeing up additional armed officers to attend events such as the FA Cup Final.

The strengthened security is designed to make London as “hostile an environment as possible to terrorists”.

Fans attending the football at Wembley Stadium and the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on Saturday face heightened security checks.

PA