A number of terror suspects have been arrested in dramatic raids as authorities close in on a jihadi network around Manchester bomber Salman Abedi.
Bomb disposal experts have this evening been called to an address in Wigan raided in connection with the atrocity, and homes have been evacuated.
Residents have described the area, close to Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, as being ‘in lockdown’ with helicopters overhead. Nurses arriving for their shifts were unable to get into work because the road was blocked.
A man was arrested yesterday afternoon in the town, but it is not known whether the address – 17 miles from the Manchester Arena – is linked to him. Witnesses on the scene say a bomb disposal robot has been deployed.
It comes after a series of operations were carried out across the Manchester area, with a huge controlled explosion in Moss Side shaking neighbouring houses.
Eight suspects have been arrested in the UK in connection with the terror attack, and two of the killer’s relatives have been arrested in Libya.
Homes in Moss Side and Withington in Manchester are also being searched, while there is still a police presence in Blackley, where a woman was arrested at a block of flats last night but later released without charge.
Armed officers last night chased one man half a mile from a home they raided in the Midlands, but police are still searching for a ‘factory’ where the bomb was made.
In last night’s operation, witnesses have said the suspect was told by an armed officer: ‘Do not move or I will fire.’
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Bomb disposal teams have been called to Springfield Street in Wigan, where a home was raided today in connection with Monday’s atrocity
Locals have said the area around the flat raided by police in Wigan is ‘in lockdown’, and neighbours have been evacuated from their homes
Springfield Street in Wigan was closed this evening and a bomb disposal unit was called to the scene
Shocked locals in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, have told how officers pointed guns at a man to make him stop running before he was Tasered yesterday evening.
Pinning him to the floor for several minutes, they then covered his arms and legs in bags, stripped him and put him in a white forensics suit.
Police arrived at the address just after 9pm and yelled at those inside to open the door. Three cars blocked off the road with a group of around five armed officers going through the front door.
The man in his 20s is believed to have escaped over the back fence into the grounds of Manor Hospital before he was arrested half a mile away.
Stacey Clarke was alerted when she heard shouting outside her home, which is close to the £210,000 raided property, which is registered to father-of-five Naser Elshetwi, 48.
She said: ‘I went out and I saw a man, he was lying on the floor spread out.. They had their guns pointing at him.
The scene in Nuneaton as police with Taser and firearms drawn arrest a man
A terror suspect was arrested in the street after he fled a house raided by police in connection with the Manchester attack
Armed police chased the man around the corner from the property in Nuneaton and he was later detained
‘He lay on the floor for about 20 minutes and then the forensics people were there, with blue suits on, and they put bags on his arms and legs.
‘Then they got him to stand up and put him in a white suit and then put him in the car and took him away.’
Another resident added: ‘Armed police kept him face down on the floor for almost 15 minutes until the forensic police showed up.
‘All the while armed police had him face down with four huge guns pointed at him.
‘Eventually they got him to his feet where they slowly stripped him and placed him in a white suit. All of his clothes and belonging were put into evidence bags.’
FULL LIST OF ARRESTS SO FAR FOLLOWING ATTACK
- Ismael Abedi, 23, bomber Salman Adebi’s older brother, was arrested outside a Morrison’s in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy at around 10.30am on Tuesday morning, 12 hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena
- A further three men were arrested in Fallowfield, Manchester, at around 2.30am on Wednesday morning
- A suspect was detained in Wigan on Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly approached a bus with a suspicious package. Footage showed him being being led away by officers. His house is now being searched.
- A woman was arrested in another raid in Blackley at around 6.30pm on Wednesday, but was later released without charge
- Hashem and Ramadan Abedi, Salman’s younger brother and father respectively, were detained in Libya. The country’s police claimed knew Hashem knew his brother was going to carry out the atrocity more than a month ago
- Just after 9pm on Wednesday, police raided a property in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and pursued a man who attempted to flee. He was Tasered to the floor by officers and has been taken to Manchester for questioning.
- Police arrested a man in Egerton Crescent, Withington following a raid in the early hours of Thursday morning. Another man was arrested in a separate raid in an unknown location in Manchester
Police enter the address in Nuneaton after a man was arrested in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing
It comes as police made a string of arrests in connection with Monday’s terror attack
Police have not confirmed if Mr Elshetwi, who is on the electoral register as living at the property, has been arrested.
Earlier this year Mr Elshetwi told of how he suffered horrific injuries after being hit by seven bullets during a kidnapping attempt last year.
Mr Elshetwi, who was born in Libyan capital Tripoli, came to Britain 20 years ago and studied at Coventry Technical College.
After being granted citizenship under then Home Secretary David Blunkett’s amnesty for families seeking asylum, he set up home in Nuneaton.
He married and had five children, who are aged between seven and 21 years old, and worked as a builder, but in 2012 went back to his home country to take part in a four-year project to build a petrol station with his father.
On January 31 last year, Mr Elshetwi claimed he was nearly killed in a kidnapping attempt, which left him with a broken leg.
The man was arrested by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and Warwickshire Police officers and is believed to have been transferred to a police station in the Greater Manchester area.
In Wigan, a man was arrested in connection with the investigation and are searching a property
Armed police point a gun at the head of a man in Hulme during a bomb scare in a street near a school
Police were scouring through objects within the college and are pictured going through a Nike rucksack
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: ‘We made an arrest in Wigan yesterday in connection with the investigation into the horrific incident at Manchester Arena.
‘Following this arrest, a house in Wigan was raided this morning and is currently being searched.’
Neighbours in Springfield Street, Wigan, have said there have been officers on the road all day, and this evening the road and sections of neighbouring Wigan Road were closed off.
A woman who lives along the road told MailOnline: ‘There’s been a police presence here all day. From what I’ve gathered the raid happened in the early hours of the morning.
‘I’ve been told someone’s been arrested.’
A resident told the Lancashire Post that they had seen an armed officer at around 1.30am.
A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said the force could not reveal details of the search, and said the total number of arrests still stands at eight.
There has been a police presence in Springfield Street, Wigan, all day. Police have confirmed that an address in the Greater Manchester town has been raided, but declined to reveal where it was
Meanwhile, back in Manchester, army bomb disposal experts rushed to Hulme, where officers were pictured pointing a gun at a man’s head on the floor.
Police later announced that a man had been arrested in the same area on suspicion of cannabis possession, but declined to confirm whether the two incidents were linked.
A helicopter flew over Castlefield Campus, in the Hulme area of south Manchester, a specialist school which, according to its website, deals with students with ‘social, emotional and mental health difficulties’.
Teams were searching the school for suspicious items, while witnesses reported seeing 10 police vans arriving in the area, and one local wrote online that they saw a man being ‘pinned to the ground’ by a team of officers.
Police placed a wide cordon around the college and Mancunian Way, one the main traffic routes through the city, was closed, but this has now been lifted.
Army bomb disposal teams arrive at a college in Hulme, South Manchester, as investigations continue
Police placed a wide cordon around the college and Mancunian Way, one the main traffic routes through the city, was closed
Witnesses reported seeing 10 police vans arriving in the area, and one local wrote online that they saw a man being ‘pinned to the ground’ by a team of officers
The raid took place at Castlefield Campus, in the Hulme area of south Manchester, a specialist school which, according to its website, deals with students with ‘social, emotional and mental health difficulties’
Three roads were closed off in Hulme, south of Manchester city centre, this morning
Residents were forced to evacuate their homes as the dramatic operation unfolded, but it was later declared safe
Armed police wearing balaclavas blasted open the front door of a terraced house in Moss Side in an early-morning raid in connection with the Manchester Arena suicide bombing.
Neighbours said they were ‘frightened to death’ and ‘terrified’ as a controlled explosion took place at an address in Lindum Street at about 1.50am on Thursday.
Up to seven armed officers swooped on the address and shouted to concerned onlookers to stay away from their windows.
Lorna Reilly, 26, described being woken up by ‘a massive bang’.
She said: ‘The house shook. I ran to my front bedroom window and armed police were stood outside and one shouted ‘back from the window’.
‘I didn’t see anything after that. I went into my back bedroom and stayed there. It was terrifying, I was shaking. I think it was the not knowing what that was going on.
‘Then 10/15 minutes later everything went really quiet. I heard a door open outside so I decided to go down and have a look, and a detective – he was really nice – said there was nothing to worry about.’
Ms Reilly said her four-year-old son slept through the entire incident.
She also passed on her concerns to police at the scene about a lime green Seat Ibiza which has been parked near to the blast-damaged house since last week.
She said: ‘I rang 101 on the Tuesday after what happened on Monday night because we know all the cars in the street and this one suddenly appeared during the night and has stayed there since.’
A police officer stands outside a door which has been smashed away following a controlled explosion in Moss Side, Manchester
The raid took place in the early hours of the morning but police are still guarding the scene as investigations continue
An explosion was heard by neighbours in the Moss Side area as GMP carry on raids all across the country
The vehicle remained at the scene on Thursday morning with uniformed officers guarding the front and rear of the red-brick property. No cordon was in place.
Ms Reilly said she knew ‘absolutely nothing’ about who lived at the property.
She said: ‘ I know the majority of people on the street. I think I saw a couple aged in their 30s or 40s last go in there about four to five weeks ago.’
A next-door neighbour to the damaged property said there had been ‘lots of comings and goings of different people’ there over the last two to three years.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, said most had been young or middle-aged men of Middle Eastern appearance.
She said she thought the house was privately rented.
Parts of the debris from the blast had flown into her front doorway, she said.
She added: ‘I heard a commotion and went to the window. I thought it was young boys messing about. I looked out and saw six or seven armed policemen with balaclavas on.
‘I was frightened to death. They were shining lights up at me and at a car.
‘I could hear military-style voices, like authority. I came away from the window. I didn’t dare go back to the window after that so I didn’t see if the police took anything out of the building.’
In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said: ‘This morning we have been carrying out searches at an address in the Moss Side area during which a controlled explosion took place.
‘These searches are connected to Monday’s attack on the Manchester Arena, but this is a fast-moving investigation and we are keeping an open mind at this stage.’
One man was detained when officers searched a property in Withington, south Manchester.
A police officer stands on duty outside a residential property in Withington, Manchester, where a man was arrested
The house in Withington was being guarded throughout the morning following the raid
The suspect is believed to be a relative of the suicide bomber Salman Abedi, which would make him him the third member of the Abedi family to be in custody.
The killer’s elder brother Ismail was held after being stopped in the street in Manchester while his father and younger brother were held by anti terror police in Tripoli, Libya.
Police in the war ravaged North African country said Hashem had been planning his own terror attack and had been briefed by his elder brother of the bomb plot over a month ago.
His father Ramadan is said to have links to an an al Qaeda-inspired terror group. The arrested man’s name has not been confirmed but friends said he was Libyan and a father of three.
Local people said a man and woman lived there, with twin boys aged about four and an elder daughter aged between 10 and 15.
Sanghamitra Das, 35, said her children use the same nursery school as the woman who lives at the address and she had spoken to her at a local park.
She said: ‘That lady is from Libya, once I had a chat, one-and-a-half months ago maybe, she said she came here six months before from Libya.
‘She doesn’t speak English, because she is not that good at English, her elder daughter was translating everything to me.
‘I never see her husband coming to the school or park, ever.
‘I think maybe they came here maybe they are refugees, actually I don’t know their visa status.’
Another neighbour said police carrying ‘big guns’ went inside last night and this morning an officer stood guard outside the entrance.
Police and bomb disposal officers stood outside at a property in Wigan on Wedesnday afternoon
Police also carried out an armed raid on a block of flats in Blackley, in the north of the city, but she was released without charge.
Police swooped on a block of flats in the Blackley area of Manchester last night and a woman was held but later released
Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told a press conference that ‘significant’ progress has been made in the investigation, but also criticised the publication of intelligence in America.
‘These have been an intense three days for the officers and staff of Greater Manchester Police, along with the National Counter Terrorist Policing Network and UK intelligence services,’ he said.
‘I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant, and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation.
‘These searches will take several days to complete, as you would expect, therefore there will be some disruption. However, it is important that we continue with these searches.
‘Alongside the investigation we have a team of specially trained officers who have been supporting the families of those who tragically lost their lives.
‘Last night the family liaison officers shared with them the fact that intelligence had been leaked and published in the New York Times. It is absolutely understandable that this has caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.’
Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack and is believed to have undergone secret jihadi training
Abedi’s father, Ramadan, was himself arrested by masked gunmen in Tripoli this evening while recording TV interviews in the country
Ismail (pictured), the older brother of Salman, was arrested in south Manchester on Tuesday as the first of nine arrests in the UK
Abedi’s younger brother Hashem (pictured) was arrested in Tripoli, Libya, on suspicion of having links to the ISIS, that claimed responsibility for the atrocity
Eighteen terror plots have been foiled since 2013, including five since the Westminster attack in March, a senior Whitehall source has said.
The Whitehall source said Salman Abedi was ‘one of a larger pool of former subjects of interest whose risk remained subject to review’ by the security service and its partners.
They added MI5 is managing around 500 active investigations, involving some 3,000 subjects of interest at any one time.
Police also carried out an armed raid on a block of flats in Blackley, in the north of the city, and a woman was held but later released without charge.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: ‘This morning we have been carrying out searches at an address in the Withington area and a man has been arrested.
‘These searches are connected to Monday’s attack on the Manchester Arena, but this is a fast moving investigation and we are keeping an open mind at this stage.
‘Another man has also been arrested in the Manchester area this morning in connection with the investigation, bringing the total number of men in custody to eight.
‘A woman who was arrested in Blackley on Wednesday evening has since been released without charge.’
There was also an incident in Maida Vale, north London, where a bag is believed to have been left in a taxi
An incident outside Swansea Magistrates’ Court was also deemed safe after an investigation this morning
This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children
There have also been incidents in Maida Vale, north London, where a bag is believed to have been left in a taxi, and outside Swansea Magistrates’ Court, but both of these incidents have been declared safe.
Abedi’s brother, Ismail, was the first person to be arrested in connection with the atrocity on Tuesday. He is still being questioned by detectives.
The explosive, which was packed in a £20 Karrimor backpack and taken to the Manchester Arena by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, was probably made by a team of professionals and could have been triggered remotely, investigators believe.
Photos of bloodstained fragments of the device leaked in the US last night show a piece of the bag which contained the bomb, the detonator and some of the nails and screws packed around it to cause maximum injury to young music fans and their parents.
Experts who have analysed the pictures believe the bomb could have been detonated by somebody else – a technique used by terror groups to avoid suicide bombers losing their nerve before blowing themselves up.
But it is possible Abedi did not set out to be a suicide bomber – and had intended to leave the bomb at the site – as ISIS’s claim of responsibility does not mention ‘martyrdom’.
Circuit boards found at the scene suggest the makers may have included a fail-safe mechanism, allowing it to be detonated remotely if not set off by Abedi.
Bloodied concertgoers were pictured being helped by armed police outside the arena after explosions rang out at the gig
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi carried the explosive in a metal container, believed to have been in a Karrimor backpack
Investigators found a destroyed 12-volt lead acid battery (pictured) after the attack in Manchester Arena, suggesting measures were taken to make sure the bomb didn’t fail. It is thought the bomb was made by a professional
Pictures of pieces of the device, first published by the New York Times, emerged just hours after the UK Government issued a warning to US authorities not to release details of the terror investigation.
The newspaper reported that screws and shrapnel dispersed by the bomb were found deeply embedded in brick walls and metal doors, suggesting a very powerful blast.
Also leaked was a diagram showing the location of the bodies of those killed. The fact that they were found in a circle around where the bomb is believed to have gone off suggests the bomb was evenly-packed, experts say.
The leaked photos show the remains of a small detonator used to explode the bomb, which security specialists think is similar in design to those used in attack on Brussels last year.
Former army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said the bomb suggested Abedi had ‘significant help’, adding: ‘This is not something you can knock up in your back shed.’
He told MailOnline the unusual thing about the bomb was that it appeared to have two detonators, one held by Abedi and another controlled remotely, potentially by other members of Abedi’s terror cell.
Mr de Bretton-Gordon, now director of Avon Protection Systems, said: ‘I would suspect that they didn’t have confidence he was going to go through with it. He might not even have known that it had a remote detonator or that they could blow him up themselves.’
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