Manchester attack: UK threat level raised to highest

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(BBC) The UK terror threat level has been raised to its highest level of “critical”, meaning further attacks may be imminent, Theresa May has said.

Thousands attended a vigil in Manchester earlier (EUROPEAN PRESS AGENCY photo)

The move came after investigators were unable to rule out whether Manchester bombing suspect Salman Abedi acted alone, the prime minister said.

Military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites.

Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured when a suicide bomber attacked Manchester Arena on Monday evening.

The prime minister also confirmed the government had triggered “Operation Temperer”, a long-standing emergency plan to put soldiers into key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public.

Third time

Military personnel may also be seen at other events over the coming weeks, such as concerts, Mrs May said, and would work under the command of police officers.

The prime minister said she did not want the public to feel “unduly alarmed” but said it was a “proportionate and sensible response”.

She said the government would take “every measure available to us” to help the police protect the public.

“The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier than the sick plots of depraved terrorists.

“That is why the terrorists will never win and we will prevail,” she said.

The highest level, which is decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre – a group of experts from the police, government departments and agencies – has only been reached twice before.

The first occasion was in 2006 during a major operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.

The following year, security chiefs raised it once more as they hunted for the men who had tried to bomb a London nightclub, before going on to attack Glasgow Airport.

Former Salford University student Salman Abedi – understood to be a 22-year-old born in Manchester to parents of Libyan descent – is thought to have blown himself up in the arena’s foyer shortly after 22:30 BST on Monday, as fans were beginning to leave a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

Three of his victims have been named – Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, Georgina Callander – thought to be 18 – and John Atkinson, 28.

Greater Manchester Police has said the priority was to establish whether Abedi had worked alone or not.

 

 

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