Manchester attacker possibly did not work alone: British minister

The official threat level in Britain was raised for the first time in a decade to 'critical' - meaning an attack could be imminent. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters London, United Kingdom May 24, 2017, 10.47 AM (IST)

The Manchester suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert venue packed with children likely did not act alone, a minister said on Wednesday as soldiers were being deployed to key sites to help prevent further attacks.

"It seems likely, possible, that he (Abedi) wasn't doing this on his own," Rudd told BBC radio. She also said Abedi had been known to security services before the bombing.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said up to 3,800 soldiers would be deployed on Britain's streets, taking on guard duties at places like Buckingham Palace and Downing Street to free up police to focus on patrols and investigatory work.

Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan origin, according to US sources citing British contacts.

Also Read: Who was Salman Abedi, the Manchester attacker?

Asked about reports that Abedi had recently returned from Libya, Rudd said she believed that had now been confirmed.

Police have named British-born Salman Abedi, 22, as the perpetrator of the bombing at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of Monday's concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande, attended by thousands of children and teenagers.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said British investigators had told French authorities Abedi had probably travelled to Syria as well and that he had "proven links" to the Islamic State militant group.

The official threat level in Britain was raised late on Tuesday for the first time in a decade to its highest level, "critical", meaning an attack could be imminent.

The identities of Abedi's victims were becoming known little by little. They included an eight-year-old girl, several teenage girls and a 28-year-old man.

A Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters after the concert also died, Poland's foreign minister said. The daughters were safe.

Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency response committee at her Downing Street office.

Britain has a national election coming up on June 8 but all campaigning has been suspended since the bombing. Coverage of the attack and its aftermath has pushed out political news from the British media.

It was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London's transport network.

The Manchester bombing also left 64 people wounded, of whom 20 were receiving critical care for highly traumatic injuries to major organs and to limbs, a health official said.

(Reuters)