UK

Hundreds Evacuated In Manchester After Police Find Car Linked To Arena Bombing

Area is near Banff Road which police had earlier cordoned off.

02/06/2017 12:01 BST | Updated 02/06/2017 16:32 BST

Police investigating the Manchester suicide bombing have evacuated an area in the south of the city after finding a car which they say “may be significant to the investigation”.

Detectives, who are still trying to piece together the movements of terrorist Salman Abedi between May 18 and May 22 when he killed 22 people at Manchester Area, located a vehicle on Devell House on Friday.

The car, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said, is not far from Banff Road, in Rusholme, an area earlier cordoned off by police.

Andrew Yates / Reuters
Police evacuate people in Rusholme Place in Manchester after finding a car that may be linked to the Manchester Arena bombing

Shortly before midday officers began “assessing the car” and erected a 100m cordon, “as a precaution”. People are being advised to avoid the area. 

GMP said the area has been evacuated. 

The Manchester Royal Infirmary will be open as normal, GMP said, but people are being evacuated from Ronald McDonald House.

“An evacuation is being carried out and we would like to thank those in the local community for their cooperation and understanding.

“We are working closely with our partners to ensure public safety and to relocate people while we carry out this precautionary measure to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson said: “This is potentially a significant development in the investigation. The car is a white Nissan Micra that has been located at Devell House, not far from Banff Road.

“We are very interested in anything people can tell us about the movements of this car, and who was in it, over the past months. We are also interested in any information about who may have had access to the car or who may have gone to and from it.

“We are really grateful for the public’s continued help in what is a very fast moving investigation and again we appeal for the public to contact us with any information, however small you believe it may be, about Abedi’s movements.”

The development comes as police released new CCTV images of Abedi in the hope of working out why he went to Banff road. 

It also came as the mother of the youngest victim of the attack, eight-year-old victim Saffie Roussos, was taken off life support and told about her daughter’s death.

Meanwhile, following claims that warnings about Abedi were not followed up, officers have been unable to find any records of calls to the police anti-Terrorist Hotline regarding Abedi before the events of May 22. Police have asked for anyone who called them about the bomber before the attack to get in touch.

Sky News
Police are still trying to trace the movements of Salman Abedi between May 18 and May 22 when he staged his attack

Saffie’s mother, Lisa, is now said to be “aware of the situation” but is still in a critical condition and on a life support machine. 

In a post on Facebook group Leyland Memories, family friend Mike Swanny said Roussos was now awake and out of surgery.

He praised the bravery of Roussos and Saffie’s father Andrew, saying: “I am very proud of the strength that Lisa and Andrew have as a couple their bravery though (sic) this is commendable.

He added: “Now they can start to deal and rebuild their lives, I hope this news will make everyone smile as this is the best news we’ve had through this tragedy.”

Swanny told the Lancashire Evening Post: “Lisa’s pulling through. She was in a critical condition at first, but she came off life support on Saturday and was up and talking on Sunday. She’s aware of the situation with Saffie.

“She’s still in hospital, but she’s moving her legs, which is fantastic.”

Speaking about the new CCTV images, Jackson said: “We are still working to track the movements of Salman Abedi and have already released a number of images of him, in the hope that they will jog people’s memories.

PA
Eight-year-old Saffie Roussos was the youngest victim of the Manchester bombing; her mother Lisa was critically injured in the blast and remains in a critical condition

“We are releasing further images of Abedi, so I would ask you to look closely at them and contact us if you saw him.

“We know that Abedi left the country on April 15 and arrived back on May 18 and we now know from our inquiries that he purchased parts for the bomb after arriving back.

“What we still need to understand is if he had any of the bomb parts in his possession before he went out of the country, this is why we are tracking his movements so carefully.

“We have made a lot of progress in this with the use of CCTV and have received some really helpful calls from the public. This has led us to the Banff Road area in Rusholme.”

Jackson said officers had been conducting house-to-house inquiries but were “still not satisfied” why Abedi went there and said it was “vital” they understood exactly where he went and who he spoke to in the final days before the attack.

He added: “We need the public’s help in this. If you have previously called and have information, I would urge you to call again.

“We need your help as we piece together what happened in the lead-up to the attack and if Abedi was helped by anyone.

“Did you see Abedi in the Rusholme area between 18th and 22nd May? Do you have any information about his movements on these dates?

“You may think it’s insignificant, but it could be a key piece of information to assist us. We need your help as we piece together what happened in the lead-up to the attack and if Abedi was helped by anyone.”

GMP confirmed that 10 men, aged between 18 and 44, remained in custody on suspicion of offences contrary to the Terrorism Act.

Six people - including a 15-year-old boy, a 34-year-old woman and four men - have been released without charge after being arrested by officers investigating the attack.

Earlier this week, police released further details about Abedi, 22, including that he had bought most of the key component parts of the suicide bomb in the few days before the attack.

Many of his movements and actions in the four days after his return to the UK from Libya leading up to the May 22 atrocity were also carried out alone but detectives have not ruled out that he was part of “a wider network”.

Meanwhile, about 600 stewards will be on duty at Sunday’s Ariana Grande benefit concert, according to GMP’s chief, who said security on leaving music events and football matches would have to be reviewed.

Event Commander, Chief Superintendent Stuart Ellison, said Grande’s concert, was one of two large-scale events taking place on Sunday, with Michael Carrick’s testimonial at Old Trafford football ground also taking place. 

Ellison said a “significant number” of officers from both GMP and other forces would be attending the events, “some of which will be armed”. 

“These officers will be spread around the approaching streets, Metrolink stations and at the stadiums themselves,” he said.

Ellison said there will be additional security checks taking place with every concert-goer being searched: “We would ask people not to bring bags if they can as this will help speed up entry. 

“We know this can be frustrating for people but we also know you understand the importance of these checks, so please be patient with staff and officers.”

Ellison added: “Whilst we want you to enjoy yourself, we also want people to be remain vigilant.

Anyone with information should call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline in confidence on 0800 789321. If you have any images or footage that you believe can assist us then upload them to Ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk or Ukpaceimageappealcom.