Britain goes on critical terror level

UNUSUAL SIGHT: An armed soldier and police officer patrol in a busy street in Britain’s capital city, London, yesterday Picture: GETTY IMAGES

1 000 troops at key London sites after attack

Britain deployed soldiers to key sites yesterday and raised its terror alert to the maximum after the Manchester suicide bombing by a man of Libyan origin who may have been radicalised in Syria.

Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the attack that killed 22 people, including Saffie Rose Roussos, a girl of just eight.

Interior Minister Amber Rudd said Abedi, 22, had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre late on Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

Investigators were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Manchester-born man of Libyan descent whose parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Muammar Gadaffi.

After arresting a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, police said they had arrested three more men yesterday in south Manchester, where Abedi lived.

Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

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French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the bomber had probably been to Syria, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

“In any case, the links with Daesh are proven,” he said, using a term for the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance had to step up and agree to do more in the fight against terrorism at a summit set for today.

Rudd said: “It was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely – possible – that he [Abedi] wasn’t doing this on his own.”

The minister said she was not surprised Islamic State jihadists had claimed the attack, but that there was no information yet to confirm this.

British Prime Minister Theresa May placed the country on its highest level of terror alert – critical – for the first time since June 2007, when it was sparked by an attack on Glasgow airport.

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About 1 000 troops were fanning out at sites like Buckingham Palace, Westminster and foreign embassies in London to free up armed police for antiterror duties.

Troops were last deployed on British streets after a suspected airliner plot in 2003. May said a new attack may be imminent. The popular Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace was cancelled yesterday and the Houses of Parliament suspended all public events.

A Polish couple living in Britain were confirmed among the Manchester victims, along with Olivia Campbell, 15.

A total of 59 people – 12 of them aged under 16 – were taken to hospital, many with life-threatening conditions. Twenty were still in critical care, officials said yesterday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday he would seek an extension to his country’s state of emergency until November.

British police had already announced extra security measures for upcoming sporting fixtures, including Saturday’s FA Cup football final.

Edouard Guihaire and Rosie Scammell


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