ISIS claims responsibility for bombing that killed 22 at Manchester concert

MANCHESTER, England — Britain’s prime minister put the nation on its highest level of alert on Tuesday and deployed the military to work with the police over fears that another terrorist attack was imminent.

The announcement came as the police continued to investigate whetherthe Monday night bombing at a pop music concert in Manchester that killed 22 people, including children, was part of a broader conspiracy.

“It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in Manchester after a meeting of her top security officials.

Earlier in the day, the police raided the home of Salman Abedi, the man they identified as the bomber; he died in the blast. Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police said that the investigation was focusing on determining “whether Mr. Abedi was acting alone or as part of a network.”

A senior United States official said on Tuesday night that Mr. Abedi had traveled multiple times to Libya, where his parents immigrated from, but did not know the timing of his last trip. The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

By raising the national threat level from severe to critical, Ms. May suggested “not only that an attack remains highly likely, but that a further attack may be imminent.”

The government’s actions on Tuesday night came hours after the authorities began the gruesome task of identifying the dead. An 8-year-old girl who had attended the Ariana Grande concert with her mother and older sister and a college student who chronicled on Instagram her encounters with her pop-music idols like Ms. Grande were among those killed.

As the authorities bolstered the nation’s defenses, investigators set out to learn as much as they could about Mr. Abedi, 22, who lived with his family only a few miles from where he detonated a homemade bomb on a public concourse crowded with Ms. Grande’s adoring teenage fans leaving the arena.

Rescue workers sifting through the carnage outside the arena on Monday night discovered Mr. Abedi’s identification card. That clue led the police to the home he shared with his family on Elsmore Road, in the Fallowfield district. The police blew the house’s door off its frame, to safeguard against booby traps, as shocked neighbors watched.

“We’ve been watching this kind of attack happen in Paris,” said a neighbor, Thomas Coull, 17. “We didn’t expect it to happen on our doorstep, literally.”

Mr. Abedi was born in 1994 in Britain, according to a law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was still underway.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in one post on social media that “one of the soldiers of the caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the crusaders in the city of Manchester.” It was one of several Islamic State statements, some contradictory, posted on different social media accounts.

A neighbor of the Abedi family in the Fallowfield district, southwest of the Manchester city center, said the family “didn’t really speak to anyone.” The neighbor, Lina Ahmed, added, “They were nice people if you walked past.” She said the family occasionally displayed a Libyan flag outside the home.

Another neighbor, Farzana Kosur, said that the mother, who taught the Quran, had been abroad for about two months. A trustee of the Manchester Islamic Center said Mr. Abedi’s father and his brother Ismael attended the mosque, but the trustee, Fawzi Haffar, did not know if Mr. Abedi worshiped there.

A senior member of the Muslim community in Manchester and a law enforcement official who requested anonymity said Mr. Abedi had been barred from the mosque in 2015 for expressing his support for the Islamic State, and he came to the attention of intelligence agencies at the time as “a person of interest.”

In raising the threat level, Mrs. May cited information gathered Tuesday in the investigation into the Manchester bombing and said the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, the body responsible for setting the level, would continue to review the situation.

“The change in the threat level means that there will be additional resources and support made available to the police as they work to keep us all safe,” Mrs. May said.

The first was on Aug. 10, 2006, after the government foiled a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners with liquid bombs. The second was on June 30, 2007, after two men slammed an S.U.V. into entrance doors at Glasgow Airport and turned the vehicle into a potentially lethal fireball.

After the prime minister’s announcement, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the head of National Counter Terrorism Policing, said in a statement that “we are flexing our resources to increase police presence at key sites, such as transport and other crowded places, and we are reviewing key events over the coming weeks.”

Credit: NY Times

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