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Items 'very important' to investigation found by police in Manchester raids

A woman who was arrested last night has been released without charge.

Manchester Arena incident Police at the scene after a raid on a block of flats in Blackley, north Manchester last night Source: Danny Lawson

Updated 12.14pm

POLICE IN MANCHESTER have found items they believe are “very important to the investigation” during the numerous raids they have carried out over the past three days.

Speaking this morning, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also said that the eight arrests made so far are “significant”.

“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.”

Earlier today, the force enlisted the help of the army bomb squad to attend a scene in the south inner city area of Hulme.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team were deployed to Castlefield Campus on Linby Street, which had been evacuated.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed that it related to a “suspicious package” found. It has since been deemed safe and the cordon removed.

Hopkins said the incident is “not necessarily linked to the wider investigation”, adding that he hopes “people will understand that we will always take any reports seriously”.

Operations have been ongoing since the Monday’s attack at the MEN arena, as police pursue leads on whether suicide bomber Salman Abedi was aided by others.

There had been conflicting reports this morning on where the bomb disposal units were heading, with the police originally releasing a statement to say that they were attending a scene at a college in Trafford.

They have since confirmed that the incident is actually taking place on Linby Street in Hulme.

Witnesses reported seeing smoke in the area, as well as hearing a loud bang at around 10am.

Arrests

Police arrested two more men overnight as the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing continues apace.

The fresh arrests brings the total of men in custody to eight. A woman who was arrested last night has since been released without charge.

“This morning we have been carrying out searches at an address in the Withington area and a man has been arrested,” a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

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.

salman Handout photo of bomber Salman Abedi

“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,” Hopkins said in his update this afternoon.

It has also been reported that both Abedi’s father and younger brother have been arrested in Libya in connection with the incident.

The bombing took place on Monday evening at 10.30pm in the aftermath of an Ariana Grande concert.

Bomber 22–year-old Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in the foyer of the arena as the crowd began to disperse.

17 of the 22 victims of the bombing have now also been named. Over 60 people were also hospitalised, many with life-threatening injuries.

Fury over leaks

Meanwhile, the US government has come in for intense criticism after intelligence related to the identity of the bomber that had been disclosed by the British authorities was almost immediately leaked to the media.

This was followed by images of key evidence in the investigation which was initially leaked to the New York Times, including photos of the bag the bomb was believed to have been carried in and various images of shrapnel.

Addressing the issue, Hopkins noted that the leaking, and subsequent publication, of the intelligence had “caused much distress for families”.

“We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world. These relationships enable us to collaborate and share privileged and sensitive information that allows us to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad,” the National Counter Terrorism Police Network said in a statement this morning.

When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.

Hopkins said he would be adding no further comment on the matter.

With reporting from Sean Murray and Sinéad O’Carroll

Read: Off-duty police officer among those killed in Manchester bombing

Read: Australian police criticised for delayed tactics in Sydney café siege

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