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UK police to stop sharing Manchester information with US after leaks

Unprecedented row over leaks escalates as the bomber's father and younger brother are questioned in Libya
A picture leaked by The New York Times of remnants of the backpack used in the Manchester attack

The UK will stop sharing information on the Manchester bombing with the US, the BBC and the Reuters news agency reported, following a series of leaks related to the attack.

Leaks from the investigation into the Manchester terror attack are undermining the investigation, British police said on Thursday after details of the probe were revealed in France and the US.

A spokesman for anti-terrorism police said investigators relied on trust with its allies, adding: "When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships and undermines our investigations".

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The British prime minister, Theresa May, is expected to raise the issue with US President Donald Trump at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, a UK government source said.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Wednesday roasted the US homeland security department and other intelligence branches after the bomber's identity and details of the probe were leaked to US media before British officials felt ready to disclose them.

But shortly after Rudd complained, The New York Times again published photographs from the scene of remnants of the bomb.

A picture said to be of the detonator used in the Manchester attack

The pictures were apparently taken by police investigators and, according to British government ministry sources, leaked by US counterparts they had been shared with.

"We are furious. This is completely unacceptable," a government ministry source said.

"These images leaked from inside the US system will be distressing for victims, their families and the wider public.

"The issue is being raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their US counterparts."

Rudd revealed the frustration going on inside the probe to find the suspected network behind bomber Salman Abedi.

"The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity... the element of surprise," Rudd told BBC radio.

"So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again."

Andy Burnham, Manchester's mayor, said the US leaks were "arrogant, wrong and disrespectful".

Police said they arrested two men Thursday in the Manchester area in connection with the deadly bombing, while a detained woman was released without charges.

The new arrests bring to eight the total number of men being held in the probe of the attack Monday in Manchester that killed 22 people, police said.

Early on Thursday morning, police carried out a controlled explosion at an address in the south of Manchester.

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"This morning we have been carrying out searches at an address in the Moss Side area during which a controlled explosion took place," Greater Manchester Police said in a statement on the overnight raid.

"These searches are connected to Monday's attack on the Manchester Arena, but this is a fast-moving investigation and we are keeping an open mind at this stage.

Desire for revenge

Abedi had expressed a desire to avenge the killing of a friend in Manchester last year, a source close to his family said Thursday.

His friend, also of Libyan descent, died after being stabbed by British youths in the city in May 2016, the source said on condition of anonymity.

"That incident stirred up a sense of anger among young Libyans in Manchester and especially Salman, who clearly expressed his desire for revenge," he said.

"We were able to calm the young people in the neighbourhoods who felt they were targeted... as Muslims," he said. "But it seems that Salman did not forget the incident."

"I personally talked with him and tried to convince him that it was just a criminal act," he added.

British media reported that Abdul Wahab Hafidah died after being run over and stabbed in the neck in Manchester's Moss Side district in May last year.

His suspected killers are still on trial.

Arrests in Tripoli

On Wednesday in Libya, the bomber’s father and younger brother were arrested by a Tripoli counter-terrorism force.

Ahmed Bin Salem, a spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force, also known as Rada, said that Salman’s brother Hashem, 20, had travelled from London to Tripoli on 16 April.

"We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (Islamic State) with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half," Bin Salem said.

"He was in contact with his brother and he knew about the attack."

Sky News reported that the bomber had been in Dusseldorf, Germany, in the days before the attack - possibly during a transit leg of his journey back to Britain.