A brother and father of the alleged Manchester suicide bomber have been arrested in Libya, according to a spokesman for the country’s anti-terror force.
Security spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said alleged bomber Salman Abedi’s younger brother, Hashim, was arrested in Tripoli Tuesday.
Bin Salem told the Reuters news agency the two brothers had been in contact recently, and Hashim knew of the attack plans.
“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (Islamic State) with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” he said.
The alleged bomber, Abedi, was born in England to Libyan parents. His father, who lives in Tripoli, has also been detained.
British police said Wednesday it was “clear” the suicide bomber who attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester did not act alone.
“It’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said during a news conference.
British police have arrested five people in connection with the attack, so far, as they continue to conduct armed raids throughout Manchester.
Greater Manchester Police said the fifth suspect was detained Wednesday evening in Wigan, a town to the west of Manchester.
Officers also arrested three men earlier Wednesday after executing warrants in South Manchester. There was no information about how the five men might be involved in the attack.
British interior minister Amber Rudd said Wednesday the alleged suicide bomber, Abedi, was “known” by British intelligence services before the bombing.
The blast at the conclusion of the concert at Manchester Arena killed 22 people and wounded 59 others. The attacker also died at the site.
Tracking Abedi’s last days
Investigators are now trying to figure out what Abedi was up to in his last days before the attack Monday.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told BFM television on Wednesday that British and French intelligence have information that Abedi had likely traveled to Syria.
According to Collomb, Abedi “grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalized and decided to carry out this attack.”
“In any case, the links with Daesh (Islamic State) are proven,” he said.
Islamic State is claiming it was behind the attack, but neither British nor U.S. intelligence have confirmed that.
Terror level raised
Britain raised its terrorism alert level to critical – the highest step – after the blast, signaling that another attack was highly likely and could be imminent.
The change is most visible in the deployment of soldiers to help guard certain areas, including major events such as concerts and football matches, in order to free up police officers.
Hopkins said an off-duty police officer was among those killed in the suicide attack, but it will take up to five days for authorities to identify all the victims.
“Due to number of victims the Home Office post-mortems are likely to take four to five days. After this we will be in a position to formerly name the victims,” he said. “We have spoken to all of the families of those who lay injured in our hospitals.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said in an address to the nation late Tuesday that authorities will do everything possible to protect the public and asked people to remain vigilant.
Many of the victims of the blast were young girls, with the youngest identified so far being just 8-year-old.
Video from the arena showed the joy in the audience at the end of the concert turning to confusion and then to panic and a scramble to get out of the building as the realization of what just happened spread.
Witness say they saw blood covered bodies on the floor while others, badly wounded, staggered toward the exits of the building.
The scene outside the concert hall was also chaotic, with traffic snarled and parents rushing to the scene.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth held a moment of silence at a garden party at Buckingham Palace. French President Emmanuel Macron signed a condolence book at the British embassy in Paris. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack only strengthens Germany’s resolve to work with the British.