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Manchester Suicide Bombing: 8 more men arrested during investigation

Abedi’s father and brother were arrested by Libyan security forces Wednesday

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A group of police officers stand outside flats in Hulme, Manchester, May 25, 2017.VOA

Manchester, May 25, 2017: Eight men are now in custody in connection with Monday’s suicide bombing at a Manchester, England pop concert, including two men who were arrested in separate raids early Thursday.

A woman arrested Wednesday during a raid on an apartment north of Manchester has been released without charge.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said these past few days have been “intense” for the officers and staff of the department but that they continue to make progress in the investigation.

“I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant. And initial searches of premises have reveled items that we believe are very important to the investigation,” he said Thursday.

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Police have given no information about how the detained men may be connected to the bombing.

Moment of silence

A moment of silence was held in Manchester Thursday morning for the victims of Monday’s suicide bombing following a pop music concert.

Residents gathered in a large circle in the city’s St. Ann’s Square with heads bowed before a makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons and candles dedicated to the 22 people killed when Salman Abedi detonated an improvised device just moments after a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande.

Shortly after the memorial service, Queen Elizabeth arrived at Royal Manchester’s Children’s Hospital to visit some of the 64 people injured in the attack. Many of the victims were young children.

In a televised message, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain’s terror threat level will remain at critical.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week, May 25, 2017.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Manchester, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week, May 25, 2017.VOA

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Bomber’s father, brother arrested

Abedi’s father and brother were arrested by Libyan security forces Wednesday. A spokesman for the Libyan anti-terrorism force said the brother, Hashim Abedi, had recently been in contact with Salman and knew of his plans for the attack.

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

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

The elder Abedi told the Reuters news agency he condemns “terrorist acts on civilians and innocent people.”

Chief Hopkins told reporters Wednesday, “It’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” and that Abedi did not act alone.

Hashim Ramadan Abedi appears inside the Tripoli-based Special Deterrent anti-terrorism force unit after his arrest on Tuesday for alleged links to the Islamic State extremist group, May 24, 2017.
Hashim Ramadan Abedi appears inside the Tripoli-based Special Deterrent anti-terrorism force unit after his arrest on Tuesday for alleged links to the Islamic State extremist group, May 24, 2017. VOA

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Trip to Syria

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

Collomb told France’s BFM television 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.

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. (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)