LONDON (CBSNewYork) — Manchester’s police chief said Wednesday that it is “very clear that this is a network that we are investigating” after the deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people, including children.
Two days of raids have led to seven arrests, and authorities said the latest suspect was carrying a package with him.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said “the level of activity in this investigation is intense and is continuing at a fast pace.” Police have been investigating if suspected suicide bomber Salman Abedi acted alone or had help carrying out the attack.
Hopkins said three other men were arrested Wednesday following the arrest of another suspect on Tuesday.
Arrests made thus far include three of Abedi’s family members — his father, and two brothers. One of the brothers reportedly told authorities that another attack was looming, and that the two were part of ISIS.
Security images are believed to show Abedi at a shopping center three days before the attack. The blue backpack he was wearing may have been the same one used to carry the bomb that killed 22 innocent people.
Authorities found shredded blue fabric at the scene along with a powerful battery and the detonator used to set off the explosion.
Hopkins also said Wednesday that they have spoken to all of the immediate family members of those who died and said they will likely publicly identify the victims in the coming days. In addition, he confirmed that one of the victims who was killed was a “serving police officer.”
The new developments come as the terror threat level in England is now at its highest level after being raised to “critical” with warnings that another attack may be imminent.
The blast happened around 10:30 p.m. Monday local time just after Grande had wrapped up her sold-out concert in the venue with more than 20,000 people in attendance, many of them young girls.
A father said he caught a glimpse of Abedi moments after the explosion.
“Literally puddles of blood mixed with ash. The only thing I saw was the bottom half of the suicide bomber,” Phil Dick said.
Among the dead are 8-year-old Saffie Roussos.
“Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word,” said school headmaster Chris Upton.
One mother’s anguished please for information ended with the tragic news that her 15-year-old daughter was dead.
“RIP my darling precious gorgeous girl Olivia, taken far too soon, mummy loves you so much,” Charlotte Campbell wrote on Facebook.
Also killed was 18-year-old Georgina Collander, who took a picture with Grande two years ago.
Health officials raised the number of wounded Wednesday to 119. Sixty-four people are still in the hospital, many with serious injuries.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level from “severe” to “critical” Tuesday after law enforcement raided the home of the Abedi.
The area around the home is thought to be a recruting ground for ISIS, with a dozen or so of its young people going off to fight in Syria.
May, who called the attack “appalling” and deliberate, reiterated the tragedy will only further unite their nation.
“We stand defiant,” she said. “The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier then the sick plots of depraved terrorists.”
British soldiers have now been deployed to guard key landmarks including Buckingham Palace and Parliament so that police can focus on potential threats toward civilian targets, CBS2’s Jonathon Vigliotti reported.
Soldiers will now also be sent to guard large public events.
Meanwhile, a British tabloid published a photo of Abedi Wednesday morning.
Police are investigating his ties to Libya, where his family is from. Abedi was born and raised in Manchester by his parents who left Libya in the 1990s, CBS News reported. He appears to have had recent travel to Libya and Syria, a source told CBS News.
A spokesman for the Libyan anti-terror force said Abedi’s father and younger brother have both been arrested in Tripoli, the Associated Press reported.
Ramadan Abedi, Salman’s father, was detained Wednesday for interrogations, Special Deterrent force spokesman Ahmed bin Salem told the AP. He said earlier that Abedi’s younger brother, Hashim, was detained Tuesday.
Security forces in Libya said Hashim, “was aware of all the details of the terrorist attack, admitted the two were members of ISIS, and was plotting another attack.”
Before his arrest, Ramadan Abedi told the AP he spoke to Salman five days ago and said he sounded “normal.”
“We don’t believe in killing innocents,” he said. “This is not us.”
He said his son was planning to visit Saudi Arabia and then head to Libya to spend the holy month of Ramadan with family and had visited Libya a month-and-a-half ago, the AP reported.