Manchester Bombing Update: Arrests Continue as England Holds Moment of Silence & Millions Raised for Victims

People pile up flowers and arrange candles and signs at a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester on May 23, 2017.
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

People pile up flowers and arrange candles and signs at a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester on May 23, 2017.

The United Kingdom held a national moment of silence on Thursday morning (May 25) at 11 a.m. BST to honor the 22 dead and dozens wounded in Monday's bomb attack outside an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. BBC News reported that emotional gatherings occurred across the nation, including one in St. Ann's Square in Manchester where the silence was followed by applause and cheers of "Well done Manchester!" as well as a spontaneous crowd rendition of Oasis' moving ballad "Don't Look Back in Anger."

Even as the victims were being remembered, the probe into the attack intensified and widened amid pushback from British authorities over the handling of sensitive intelligence by U.S. agencies.

A growing source of tension in the investigation is the steady drip of leaks to the U.S. media from the Trump administration, a situation UK Prime Minister Theresa May intends to bring up when she meets the U.S. president at at NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, according to CNN. "I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure," she said. British intelligence is concerned that the leaks -- which Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said were "arrogant" -- could compromise the fast-moving investigation. 

The discomfort grew on Wednesday (May 24), after The New York Times posted a story that contained a number of photos of what are believed to be the detonator, a battery and shrapnel that bomber Salman Abedi used in the attack. The paper described the powerful explosive housed in a metal container filled with nuts and screws concealed either in a black vest or blue backpack, with a hand-operated detonator and a 12-volt battery power source. A review of the site shows that the majority of the fatalities occurred in a "nearly complete circle" around the bomber, whose "upper torso was heaved outside the lethal ring toward the Manchester Arena entrance." The sophistication of the bomb -- which may also have contained a redundant timer switch as back-up -- suggests possible outside help in devising the device.

England's National Police Chiefs' Council warned shortly after that leaks of the photos that publicly sharing such potentially crucial evidence "undermine our investigations." U.S. intelligence receives updates on the investigation because of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement, which includes England, the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that the bomber was on the intelligence service's radar before the attack and that he'd been in Libya for three weeks before returning home just days before he set off an improvised explosive device in the suicide bombing.

A family friend told CNN that the assailant's father -- who was arrested on Wednesday in the probe along with his younger brother -- had taken his sons to Libya in mid-April and confiscated their passports so they couldn't return to the UK, where both had reportedly been in trouble with gangs. Salman Abedi, however, convinced his father to give his passport back by claiming he was going to pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, returning to England instead.

As the families of the many teenage victims continue to mourn the loss of young lives, Queen Elizabeth II visited with some of the wounded at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and Children's Hospital Thursday morning, even as two more men were arrested in the probe, bringing the total number in custody so far to eight, according to CNN.

Charity drives to raise money for the victims include one by the Manchester City and Manchester United football teams, who have jointly pledged more than $1.3 million for an emergency fund, according to BBC News; a group of organizations, individuals and community groups have raised a total topping $2.6 million in the past 24 hours, which will be rolled into the British Red Cross' "We Love Manchester Emergency Fund." At press time, there were 116 known injured, 75 of which remain in hospital including 23 in critical condition, five of whom are children.

 

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