MANCHESTER, England, May 25, (Agencies): Home searches across Manchester and beyond have uncovered important items in a fast-moving investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, Manchester’s police chief said Thursday as a diplomatic spat escalated over US leaks about the investigation to the media. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters the eight suspects detained so far are “significant” arrests, and “initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation.”
He did not elaborate, but those arrests around the northwestern English city include Ismail Abedi, the brother of 22-year-old Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi. The bomber’s father Ramadan Abedi and another brother Hashim have been detained in Libya.
As police raced to uncover the network that may have helped Abedi attack an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, furious British officials blamed US authorities Thursday for leaking details of the investigation to the media. One British official told The Associated Press that police in Manchester have stopped sharing information about their bombing investigation with the US until they get a guarantee that there will be no more leaks to the media.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would discuss the leaks with Trump at a NATO summit. Upon her arrival in Brussels, May said the US-British defense and security partnership is built on trust. But she said “part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently.” British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb were published in The New York Times, although it’s not clear that the paper obtained the photos from US officials. British security services are also upset that Abedi’s name was apparently leaked by US officials while British police were withholding it — and while raids were underway in Manchester and in Libya, where the bomber’s father lives.
Hopkins, the Manchester police chief, said the leaks had “caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.” Trump on Thursday pledged to “get to the bottom” of leaks of sensitive information, calling the leaks “deeply troubling.” He said he is asking the Justice Department and other agencies to “launch a complete review of this matter.” The New York Times defended its publication of crime-scene photographs, saying its coverage had been “both comprehensive and responsible.” “The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes,” the paper said.
May said the national threat level from terrorism remains at critical — the highest level, meaning that another attack may be imminent. Hundreds of soldiers have replaced police protecting high-profile sites including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament in London. “The public should remain vigilant,” May said. Around the country, many people fell silent and bowed their heads at 11:00 am for a minute in tribute to the bombing victims. In Manchester’s St Ann’s Square, where a sea of floral tributes grows by the hour, a crowd sang “Don’t Look Back in Anger” — a song by the Manchester band Oasis. Queen Elizabeth II visited Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on Thursday to talk to some of the victims, their families and medical staff.