UK Lowers Terror Threat Level to Severe05/27 09:33
MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a
notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been
made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are
Prime Minister Theresa May said "a significant amount of police activity"
and several arrests had led to the level being lowered. But she urged Britons
to remain vigilant and said soldiers would remain at high-profile sites
throughout the current holiday weekend. The troops will gradually be withdrawn
from Monday, May said.
A severe threat means an attack is "highly likely," according to the scale
set by Britain's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. Until it was raised Tuesday,
it had stayed at severe since mid-2014.
Police made two more attests Saturday, bringing the number of suspects in
custody to 11. All are men, aged between 18 and 44.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain's top counterterrorism police
officer, said authorities have dismantled a "large part" of the network around
bomber Salman Abedi. But he said there were still "gaps in our understanding"
of the plot, as investigators probed Abedi's potential links to jihadis in
Britain, Europe, Libya and the Middle East.
Rowley said the investigation had made "rapid progress," and police "are
getting a greater understanding of the preparation of the bomb."
"There is still much more to do. There will be more arrests and there will
be more searches," he said.
Greater Manchester Police said two men, aged 20 and 22, were detained early
Saturday in the northwest England city on suspicion of terrorism offenses.
Police used an explosive device to get into a property to make the arrests.
Investigators have searched 17 properties, including bomber Salman Abedi's
home in south Manchester and other houses in nearby districts.
Residents were evacuated from streets in the south Manchester neighborhood
of Moss Side in what police called a precaution as one search was carried out
Saturday. Photos showed an army bomb-disposal unit at the property.
One of the searches was at an apartment in a Manchester high-rise that
British media say was rented by Abedi in the months before the attack. Mohammed
El-Hudarey, a friend of the landlord, said after Abedi moved out about six
weeks ago there was a strong smell of chemicals and debris including metal rods
and cut-up fabric.
"We thought he must have been a drug dealer or doing witchcraft," El-Hudarey
told the BBC.
Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent died in Monday's explosion,
which killed 22 people and wounded dozens as crowds were leaving an Ariana
Britain's health service said Saturday that 63 people injured in the bombing
remain hospitalized, 20 of them in critical condition. A total of 116 people
were treated in hospitals after the attack.
Hundreds of soldiers have been sent to replace police at high-profile sites
including Buckingham Palace and Parliament, and police armed with submachine
guns are being deployed in city centers, transit hubs, tourist areas and major
Despite the alert, police have urged people to go out and enjoy themselves
over the three-day holiday weekend.
More than 1,000 armed police are on standby as major events including the
Football Association Cup Final and the Premiership Rugby Final are expected to
draw tens of thousands of people.
Manchester is slowly returning to normal, though the damaged arena and
adjacent Victoria train station remain closed.
Grande has promised to return to Manchester for a benefit concert. In a
statement Friday, she said "I'll be returning to the incredibly brave city of
Manchester to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honor of
and to raise money for the victims and their families."
"Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each
other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than
we did before," she said. "We will not quit or operate in fear. We won't let
this divide us. We won't let hate win."