British police have stopped sharing information with the US about Monday’s suicide bombing in Manchester.
British counter-terrorism source has told reporters that officers say leaks to the US media are hindering their investigation.
What happened on Monday?
22-year-old attacker Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena. The concert venue was packed with children and young people who had just watched a performance by pop singer Ariana Grande. The majority of Grande’s fans are children and teenagers.
22 people were killed and 64 were injured.
The victims ranged from an eight-year-old schoolgirl to parents who had come to pick up their children.
The bombing is the deadliest in the UK since July 2005, when 52 people were killed in attacks on London’s transport network.
Is it usual for the police to stop sharing information?
No. It has been described as an “extraordinary step”. The UK sees the US as its closest ally on security and intelligence.
“This is until such time as we have assurances that no further unauthorised disclosures will occur,” said the counter-terrorism source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police chiefs have made clear they are furious about the publication of confidential material in the US media, including photographs of the scene of the bomb in the New York Times. Sources say the leaks are undermining the relationship with trusted security allies.
“This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation,” a National Counter-Terrorism Policing spokesperson said in a statement.
What kind of information has been leaked?
Pictures published by the New York Times include remains of the bomb and of the rucksack carried by the suicide bomber. Blood stains can be seen among the debris.
The Financial Times reported that images are available across a restricted-access encrypted special international database used by government and explosives experts in 20 countries allied with Britain.
It said the database was built around a longstanding US-British system.
The US channel ABC News has reported that police have found a “bomb-making workshop” in Abedi’s home. It is claimed he had stockpiled enough chemicals to make additional bombs.
The Independent reported that bomb-making materials which could be primed for imminent attacks have also been found in raids.
The UK routinely shares intelligence with the US bilaterally and also as part of the “Five Eyes” network, which also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Has the UK threat level been raised?
Yes. It was raised to “critical” after the attack. This is the highest level and means an attack could be imminent.
Troops have been deployed to free up police officers for patrols and investigations.
Have there been any arrests?
Yes. There have been a series of raids in Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton in Warwickshire. Eight people are in custody in connection with the attack. British media are reporting that one of them is the bomber’s brother but police have not confirmed this.
Abedi’s father and younger brother were arrested in Tripoli in Libya, where the family originally come from.