MANCHESTER: British police stopped sharing information about the Manchester suicide bombing with the United States on Thursday after leaks to U.S. media that police said had risked compromising their investigations.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she would tell U.S. President Donald Trump that intelligence shared between their two countries had to remain secure, in a rare public show of dissatisfaction with Britain’s closest security ally.
Police are holding eight people in custody in connection with the attack on a packed concert hall, which killed 22 people. Manchester’s Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the arrests were significant.
“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,” he told reporters.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters the bomber, Salman Abedi, might have made the bomb himself or with some assistance from an accomplice. That was a change from previous thinking that a bomb-maker might be at large.
“The focus is still the search for accomplices and the network but he could have made this bomb himself,” the source said.
The official threat level in Britain was raised after the attack to “critical”, its highest level, meaning a further attack could be imminent.
Troops have been deployed to free up police officers for patrols and investigations, and on Thursday the British Transport Police said armed officers would patrol trains for the first time.
Hopkins said on Wednesday that Abedi was part of a network.
Born in Manchester to Libyan parents, the 22-year-old had recently returned from Libya, according to interior minister Amber Rudd.
He blew himself up at the Manchester Arena indoor venue after a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande, whose fan base is made up largely of children and teenagers. The victims ranged from an eight-year-old schoolgirl to parents who had come to pick up their children.
The attack also injured 116 people, of whom 75 were admitted to hospital and 23 remain in a very serious condition, health authorities said on Thursday.