Manchester attack: Police move in on arena bomber's 'network'

A flurry of raids and arrests on Wednesday took aim at a terror network associated with the former university student who conducted the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester days after returning from Libya, officials say.

Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British-born national of Libyan descent, was identified by police as the suicide bomber in the Manchester Arena attack, which killed at least 22 people, including children, and injured dozens Monday night. Abedi is believed to have been killed.

New details about Abedi emerged Wednesday -- including alleged links to terror groups, his troubles in Manchester after the death of a friend, his travel to Libya with a younger brother and their father's attempts to keep them from returning to the UK.

"It is very clear that this is a network we are investigating," Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.

Meanwhile, more victims of the bombing have been named -- Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, two teens who were in a relationship.

A tribute from their two families was posted on the GMP twitter feed.

"They were beautiful inside and out to ourselves and our families, and they were inseparable," the tribute reads.

Among the dead are 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland, and 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, according to her mother. Cheshire Police said one victim was an off-duty female officer. She was not identified.


Key developments

  • A seventh person is arrested late Wednesday in connection with attack.
  • A woman is arrested during a raid in the Blackley area of Manchester.
  • The brother of the Manchester bomber is arrested in Libya.
  • A friend of the attacker's family says Abedi went to Libya after getting into trouble in UK.
  • The attacker returned to UK days before bombing, friend says.


'Manchester stands against terrorism'

On Thursday, the UK will hold a minute of silence two days after Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain's threat level was raised from "severe" to "critical," and warned a "further attack may be imminent."

The six men and one woman arrested over the past two days in connection with the attack were taken into custody in the Manchester area and Nuneaton, about 100 miles southeast of Manchester, in the British Midlands. A woman was arrested during a raid on flats in Blackley, the Press Association reported, citing Greater Manchester Police.

Up to 3,800 military personnel have been made available following the attack, Secretary Rudd said, and almost 1,000 are deployed.

Late Wednesday, Manchester United beat Ajax 2-0 to win the Europa League soccer tournament as fans in the stands in Stockholm, Sweden, carried banners saying, "Manchester stands against terrorism."

Bomber's brother arrested in Libya

Abedi was on the radar of intelligence services, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC.

The bomber was in Libya for three weeks and returned days before his attack, US military officials assigned to US Africa Command told CNN.

In Libya, Abedi's brother -- identified as 20-year-old Hashim Ramadan Abu Qassem al-Abedi -- was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of links to ISIS, said a statement from a Tripoli militia known as the Special Deterrence Force.

The younger Abedi was allegedly planning a terror attack in Libya when arrested, the militia reported. He was picked up while allegedly receiving a money transfer from Salman Abedi.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the details from the militia. The UK Foreign Office, Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police had no immediate comment on the reported arrest in Libya.

The militia claims the younger Abedi admitted knowledge about the Manchester attack and was in Britain for its planning. The statement also said he left the UK in mid-April and had been under surveillance about a month and a half.