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UK blasts US on intelligence leaks, police stop sharing information

  • Published at 07:30 am May 25th, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:27 am May 25th, 2017
UK blasts US on intelligence leaks, police stop sharing information

British police have stopped sharing information on the suicide bombing in Manchester with the US, the BBC reported on Thursday, because of fears that leaks to the US media could hinder a hunt for a possible bomb-maker still at large.

The row came as police pressed a fast-paced investigation into Monday's bombing, which killed 22 people at a music venue packed with children and raised fears a further attack could be imminent. Troops have been deployed to guard key points and eight people have been arrested.

Authorities have said the 22-year-old bomber, British-born Salman Abedi, was part of a network and had recently returned from Libya, where his parents were born.

Police chiefs have made clear they are furious about the publication of confidential material in US media, including bomb site photographs in the New York Times, saying such leaks undermined relationships with trusted security allies.

"This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation," a National Counter Terrorism Policing spokesman said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will raise the issue with US President Donald Trump when she meets him at a Nato summit in Brussels later on Thursday, a government source said.

'Bomb-making workshop'

The pictures published by the New York Times included remains of the bomb and of the rucksack carried by the suicide bomber, and showed blood stains amid the wreckage. The Financial Times reported that such images are available across a restricted-access encrypted special international database used by government ordnance and explosives experts in about 20 countries allied with Britain. It said the database was built around a longstanding US-British system. The BBC said Manchester Police hoped to resume normal intelligence relationships soon but was currently furious. US channel ABC News reported that police had found a kind of bomb-making workshop in Abedi's home and he had apparently stockpiled enough chemicals to make additional bombs. British news website The Independent also reported bomb-making materials which could be primed for imminent attacks had been found in the raids following the Manchester bombing. The report said one suspect device was blown up in a controlled explosion.

2 more arrested

Greater Manchester Police say two men were arrested overnight in Manchester and in the Withington area south of the city. Officers also raided a property in the city’s Moss Side neighbourhood early Thursday and carried out a controlled explosion.

Eight men have now been detained in Britain connection with Monday’s attack. Those include Abedi’s brother Ismail, his father Ramadan Abedi said. A woman was arrested late Wednesday but was later released without charge.

Election campaign resumes

Anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) unveils its policy pledges on Thursday, restarting an election campaign which was suspended after the suicide attack.

Britons are due to vote on June 8, with the latest polls, published before Monday's attack, showing Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives comfortably ahead of the main opposition Labour Party, albeit with a narrowing lead.

The two main parties will restart their national campaigns on Friday but UKIP, which was key to securing Britain's exit from the EU, said the best response to the attack was to begin as soon as possible.

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