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Manchester Suicide Bomber Salman Abedi’s Brother and Father Arrested in Libya

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Women cry after placing flowers in a square in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead. VOA

Manchester, May 24, 2017: Libyan security forces said Wednesday that they had arrested a brother and the father of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

A spokesman for the Libyan anti-terrorism force said Hashim Abedi had recently been in contact with his brother and knew of his plans for the attack.

“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh [an Arabic name for the Islamic State group] with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” the spokesman said.

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Salman Abedi blew himself up in the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people and wounding scores of others, just moments after the ending of a pop music show featuring American singer Ariana Grande.

Armed police officers patrol a police cordon near the Manchester Arena in Manchester, May 24, 2017.
Armed police officers patrol a police cordon near the Manchester Arena in Manchester, May 24, 2017. VOA

Abedi’s father told Reuters he spoke to his son five days ago, and “everything was normal.”

Father condemns terrorism

His son did not have extremist beliefs, the father said in Tripoli, where he lives. However, he added that Abedi did not disclose he was heading for Manchester when he left Libya last week.

The elder Abedi told Reuters he condemned “terrorist acts on civilians and innocent people.”

The top police official in Manchester, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, told reporters Wednesday, “It’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” and that Abedi did not act alone.

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Police made a sixth arrest late Wednesday, a woman who was taken into custody during a raid on an apartment north of Manchester.

Five men are also in custody. Police have given no information about how they may be connected to the bombing.

Bomber traveled to Syria

In France, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday that British and French intelligence had information that Abedi most likely traveled to Syria.

Collomb told France’s BFM television that Abedi “grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalized and decided to carry out this attack. In any case, the links with Daesh are proven.”

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, but British and U.S. intelligence have not confirmed that the extremist group was involved.

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British and American newspapers have printed police images of some evidence left on the floor of the arena where Abedi blew himself up, including shreds of a backpack or vest that apparently held the bomb and a piece of bloodstained metal that may have been the detonator.

Britain raised its terrorism alert level to “critical” — the highest step — after the blast, signaling that another attack could be imminent, and Prime MinisterTheresa May cut short her trip to the Group of Seven meeting in Sicily later this week.

Police officers stand guard in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017 after Monday's suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert.
Police officers stand guard in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017 after Monday’s suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert. VOA

Soldiers patrol major events

Soldiers are being deployed to such major events as soccer matches and concerts. The prime minister said authorities would do everything possible to protect the public, and she asked people to remain vigilant.

Video from the arena showed the joy in the audience at the end of the concert turning to confusion and then to panic and a scramble to get out of the building as the realization of what had happened spread. Many of the victims of the blast were young girls, including an 8-year-old child.

Witnesses saw blood-covered bodies on the floor as wounded concertgoers who were still able to move staggered toward the exits.

Grande canceled her tour schedule in Europe until June 7, when she is due to appear in Paris. (VOA)

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Saudi Arabia to Cooperate with India in Combating Terrorism

Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India.

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Saudi Arabia, Modi, Terrorism
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in New Delhi that terrorism is a common concern and his country would cooperate with India in combating terrorism and extremism.

On a visit to New Delhi, Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India.

His trip to New Delhi has coincided with spiraling tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of a terror attack that killed 40 paramilitaries in Indian Kashmir.

Prince Salman’s meetings with Indian leaders came two days after he went to Pakistan. He did not mention the attack on Indian soldiers, but at a joint press appearance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he said “we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work in the intelligence sharing and political arenas to coordinate our efforts on terrorism.”

Referring to the recent “barbaric” attack in Kashmir, Modi said that the two countries had agreed that “it is extremely important to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism in any way.” The Indian leader said that destroying the infrastructure of terrorism, and punishing terrorists and their supporters is necessary.

India, Saudi Arabia, terrorism
The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications. Wikimedia

New Delhi, which accuses Pakistan of giving sanctuary to terror groups that carry out strikes in India, is trying to build diplomatic pressure against Islamabad. It gave Prince Salman a warm welcome with Modi breaking protocol to receive him personally at the airport on Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, who also was warmly welcomed in Pakistan, had pledged investment deals worth $ 20 billion during his Islamabad visit.

Modi said that India and Saudi Arabia had agreed to to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism, naval and cyber security.

As both leaders hailed deepening ties, they also sounded an optimistic note on building business and trade ties. The Saudi Crown Prince, who came to New Delhi with a large business delegation, said that Riyadh had invested $44 billion in India since 2016. He said that there were opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India in areas such as energy, agriculture and technology.

Two-way trade totaled over $ 27 billion last year. Saudi Arabia is a top supplier of oil to India, which is one of the world’s largest oil importers and provides about one fifth of its crude.

India, saudi arabia, terrorism
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center left, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, center right, witness the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Petroleum, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2019. VOA

The two countries signed five agreements in the areas of investment, tourism, housing and communications.

Prince Salman said that his visit to India will improve centuries-old ties between the countries, which he said are “in our DNA.” Ties between the two countries have been on an upswing since Modi visited Riyadh in 2016 as part of efforts to strengthen ties with Middle East countries.

ALSO READ: Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

The Saudi crown prince is on his first major overseas tour since the storm over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. He is expected to visit China after India. (VOA)