LONDON — Security at major public events across the country on Saturday has been ramped up after Monday’s terror attack in Manchester that left 22 dead.
Thirteen people have now been arrested in connection to the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. Two were released without charge, with a further 11 remaining in custody.
On Friday evening, Police arrested a 44-year-old man after storming a bus in Rusholme, about two miles south of the city centre. Passengers told Manchester Evening News that at least six officers boarded the bus and told everyone to leave.
“I saw plain-clothed policemen, uniformed and some in face masks with machine guns,” an eyewitness told the publication.
Further addresses were being searched on Saturday morning in Manchester.
Meanwhile, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer has said police are making “fantastic progress” in tracking down Salman Abedi’s terror network, and urged Brits to “enjoy yourselves” this weekend.
Top anti-terror boss urges Brits: ‘Enjoy yourselves’
Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, told a pool TV interview on Friday afternoon that officers have “got our hands around some of the key players,” adding that “there is still work to do.”
He added that people should not change their plans this weekend, despite the critical terror threat level. “Go out as you planned. Enjoy yourselves and be reassured by the greater policing presence you will see,” he said. “We can’t let the terrorists win by dissuading us from going about our normal business.”
There are a number of major public events due to go ahead this weekend, including the FA cup final, the Premiership Rugby Final, Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Hull, Birmingham Pride, and the Chelsea Flower Show in London. Attendees are being asked to arrive earlier than usual to allow for security checks, and have ben told to expect a heavier police presence.
“We are working closely with both the Football Association (FA) and Wembley to ensure this weekend’s iconic football matches pass off without incident,” Rowley said.
“Together we have a long history of delivering safe and secure major sporting events. This will include extra armed officers on foot patrol around the environs of the Stadium, and the deployment of police armoured vehicles to support road closures.
“At Twickenham rugby fans will see more armed officers on foot around the stadium.”
However, The Guardian reports that a showing of the FA Cup final at the Emirates stadium in North London has been cancelled after the threat level was raised to “critical.”
The attack is becoming a political issue
Meanwhile, the attack has become a political issue in the country’s election campaign ahead of the General Election on June 8. Prime Minister Theresa May has attacked Jeremy Corbyn over his remarks on the causes of terrorism, accusing the Labour leader of blaming the attack on Britain’s foreign policy.
“Jeremy Corbyn has said that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault and he has chosen to do that a few days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities we have experienced in the United Kingdom,” she said — sparking an angry response from Labour.
“In his speech, Jeremy said protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism,” a party spokesperson said, per The Guardian. “The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.”
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