Manchester attacker's father, younger brother arrested in Tripoli: spokesman

The father and the younger brother of the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert venue in Manchester have been arrested in Tripoli, a spokesman for a local counter-terrorism force said on Wednesday.

British police hunted on Wednesday for potential accomplices who may have helped Salman Abedi build the bomb that went off inside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and who could be ready to kill again.

A spokesman for the local counter-terrorism force said younger brother Hashem Abedi was arrested on suspicion of links with Islamic State and was suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the Libyan capital.

Timeline of the Manchester Arena attack

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Timeline of the Manchester Arena attack
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Timeline of the Manchester Arena attack
Police vehicles and a police officer are seen outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, northern England, Britain May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
Police responded to reports of an incident at Manchester Arena. Please stay away from the area. More details to follow....
#arianagrande concert in Manchester where people were running to get safe after an explosion took place, the concert goers reportedly heard two loud booms and there may have been casualties #gossiptwins
An ambulance drives away from the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Emergency services responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena. Avoid the area. More details will follow as soon as available
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Pictures of the injured beginning to come out of Manchester (credit: Joel Goodman) https://t.co/9LebrHAmby
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - A person is wheeled away on a stretcher at Victoria Railway Station close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Police statement on incident at Manchester Arena https://t.co/gaKASukx9a
Due to the incident in Manchester, please only call us for life threatening emergencies at this time. Thank you.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Members of the public receive treatment from emergency service staff at Victoria Railway Station close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Latest statement on incident at Manchester Arena https://t.co/BEpLOan3dY
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police have confirmed 19 fatalities and at least 50 injured. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Members of the public are escorted from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
#Manchester explosion @gmpolice statement: 19 dead and around 50 injured in the incident that's currently being tre… https://t.co/LmzzMsc5CV
Latest statement on incident at Manchester Arena @CCIanHopkins https://t.co/GEABqAk5rr
NWAS has taken 59 casualties from the Manchester Arena incident to various hospitals & treated a number of walking wounded on scene
Forensics investigators work at the entrance to the Manchester Arena, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, addresses the media near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, northern England, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
A youngster wearing a t-shirt showing U.S. singer Ariana Grande talks to the media near the Manchester Arena in Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd arrives in Downing Street for an emergency cabinet meeting in London, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 23: Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside No 10 Downing Street following the terror attacks at Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in London, England. A large explosion was reported at the end of a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. So far, police have confirmed 22 dead and over fifty injured in the explosion, now thought to be terrorist-related. PHOTOGRAPH BY Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
At the request of @JunckerEU, flags at half-mast in @EU_Commission in solidarity with the British people… https://t.co/AHKQTbW2oY
People rush out of the Arndale shopping centre as it is evacuated in Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
Police say it's a false alarm sparked by someone panicking unnecessarily. Outbreaks like this often happen in wake of a terror attack.
#Breaking Man, 23, arrested in connection with Manchester Arena bomb attack, @gmpolice say https://t.co/Y6On1vMA4R
An armed police officer stands outside a residential property near to where a man was arrested in the Chorlton area of Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
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According to a counter-terrorism force spokesman and a witness, Abedi's father, Ramadan Abedi, was detained outside his home in the Tripoli suburb of Ayn Zara on Wednesday afternoon. An eyewitness said he was handcuffed by armed men who drove him away in two unmarked vehicles.

Police have so far announced seven arrests and Abedi's home was raided by special forces about 12 hours after the suicide attack. His brother, Ismail, was arrested.

One of the seven was carrying a package when he was arrested in the town of Wigan, 17 miles (27 km) to the west of Manchester city center, police said.

As police tried to piece together the British-born Abedi's past, Prime Minister Theresa May said security officials had raised their assessment of the threat to Britain to "critical," indicating an attack is imminent.

Part of that threat assessment is the fear that Abedi, who blew himself up in the bomb attack, could have been working as part of a group with possible links to militants who have the competence to plot and execute suicide bombings.

Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters it was very clear that they were investigating what he called "a network." He declined to give any further details on the investigation.

"The question is: Was he acting alone or was he part of a network of others who want to kill. That is what the investigation is focusing on," a source with knowledge of the British investigation told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Tributes to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack

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Tributes to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack
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Tributes to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack
A woman lays flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
Police officers look at flowers and messages left for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
Britain Football Soccer - Manchester United Training - Manchester United Training Ground - 23/5/17 Manchester United players and staff stand for a minute of silence during training honouring the people killed and wounded in an explosion at Manchester Arena Reuters / Andrew Yates Livepic
Flowers and messages for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack are seen in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
A woman lays flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
A man writes a message on the pavement in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
70th Cannes Film Festival - Tribute for Manchester - Cannes, France. 23/05/2017. Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Fremaux, Cannes Film festival president Pierre Lescure, actress Isabelle Huppert and staff members observe a minute of silence on the red carpet. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Flowers as a tribute for victims of Monday's suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in the English city of Manchester are seen in front of the British embassy in Berlin, Germany May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A man photographs a sign in Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Messages are left amongst tributes left by members of the public in St Ann Square on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Manchester,England. At least 22 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a pop concert packed with children in the northern English city of Manchester, in the worst terror incident on British soil since the London bombings of 2005.� (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Flowers left by members of the NHS are left in St. Anne's Square on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. Prime Minister Theresa May held a COBRA meeting this morning following a suicide attack at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police have confirmed the explosion as a terrorist attack with 22 fatalities and 59 injured. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 23: A British Union Jack flag flies at half-mast on top of the embassy of Great Britain in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack the last night in Manchester on May 23, 2017 in Paris, France. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack and have confirmed 22 fatalities and 59 injured. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron will go this afternoon to the British Embassy to sign the book of condolences. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
People pass flowers left in front of the British embassy in Kiev on May 23, 2017, in tribute to victims of deadly Manchester Arena terror attack. Twenty two people have been killed and dozens injured in Britain's deadliest terror attack in over a decade after a suspected suicide bomber targeted fans leaving a concert of US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman lays flowers in front of the British embassy in Kiev on May 23, 2017, in tribute to victims of deadly Manchester Arena terror attack. Twenty two people have been killed and dozens injured in Britain's deadliest terror attack in over a decade after a suspected suicide bomber targeted fans leaving a concert of US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Religious leaders hold a prayer meeting in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
Flowers as a tribute for victims of Monday's suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in the English city of Manchester are seen in front of the British embassy in Berlin, Germany May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A woman places flowers on an impromptu memorial at Manchester Town Hall for the victims of an attack at Manchester Arena, Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
People stop to look at flowers and messsages on an impromptu memorial in St Anns Square for the victims of an attack at Manchester Arena, Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super
Women pay their respects to all those affected by the bomb attack, following a vigil in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Women react after lighting candles for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
The water fountain (jet d'eau) is lit with blue, red and white in remembrance for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A woman looks at flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
People take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 23: The colors of the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, are projected on to the Melbourne Town Hall as a tribute to Manchester Bombing victims on May 23, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack and have confirmed 22 fatalities and 59 injured. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Members of the public pause to look at floral tributes and messages as the working day begins on May 24, 2017 in Manchester, England. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena on the evening of May 22 as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack and have confirmed 22 fatalities and 59 injured. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Floral tributes, messages and candles are pictured in Albert Square in Manchester, northwest England on May 24, 2017, as tributes to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena. Police on Tuesday named Salman Abedi -- reportedly British-born of Libyan descent -- as the suspect behind a suicide bombing that ripped into young fans at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena on May 22, as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage. / AFP PHOTO / CHRIS J RATCLIFFE (Photo credit should read CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
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"The concern is that there may be others out there who helped him to make the bomb. Making a bomb of this sort requires a certain level of expertise and competence," the source said.

A second source said investigators suspect an accomplice helped Abedi build the bomb and then plot the attack.

British security services are now trying to work out what turned Abedi, the tall, skinny son of a devout Muslim who opposed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, into a killer.

He was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan birth and raised in Britain. His parents had emigrated from Libya to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester, where they lived for at least 10 years.

Britain's interior minister, Amber Rudd, said Abedi had recently returned from Libya and her French counterpart, Gerard Collomb, said he had proven links with Islamic State and had probably visited Syria too.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the links to Islamic State or Syria.

Stars react to Manchester bombing

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Stars react to Manchester bombing
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Stars react to Manchester bombing
wishing I could give my friend @arianagrande a great big hug right now... love love love you .... so sorry you had to be apart of such a tragic event! my most sincere condolences to anyone and everyone affected by this horrific attack! all I can do is send as much HOPE & PEACE your way! This MUST end! No more war .... no more innocent lives taken .... L-O-V-E 💙❤️💜💚💛 @happyhippiefdn
broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
Praying for the beautiful souls we lost, their families and loved ones, for the survivors who will forever be impacted by this #Manchester
#Manchester has always been so close to my heart! These are innocent vulnerable kids, this could've been any of us! I'm devastated!
I can't imagine the fear and agony these parents must be going through searching for their kids 💔
Up early & ready about what happened in Manchester. This is truly so senseless & heart breaking. My heart goes out to everyone involved
So heartbroken to hear of the nightmare that came true last night in Manchester. Sending love light and prayers to everyone affected.
Can't stop thinking about the joy of going to your 1st concert. Bravery & hope. All violence is tragic. This is impossible to shake.
God bless everyone who was at Ariana's concert! My prayers are with you all and poor sweet Ariana! This is heartbreaking 💔
My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight. I'm sending all my love.
MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO PPL OF MANCHESTER…HAD SPECIAL TIMES THERE FROM YOUTH & BEYOND
I'm heartbroken over what happened in Manchester tonight. Sending love to everyone involved. H
Absolutely Horrendous what happened in Manchester tonight. My thoughts are with the great people of Manchester and also Ari and her team xx
To see what has happened in Manchester makes me really sad. My thoughts are with those that are experiencing such tragedy at this time x
Sending prayers to the people of Manchester. I'm heartbroken for the lives lost and all the families suffering right now
My heartfelt thoughts and prayers for all those effected by the tragedy in Manchester last night 🙏🏻 x VB… https://t.co/OLkb5elWtN
Heartbreaking news from Manchester. As a father & a human what has happened truly saddens me. My thoughts are with all of those that have been affected by this tragedy...
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Manchester, any one affected, @ArianaGrande and the entire crew. Heartbreaking
Just woken up and seen the news. My heart and soul is broken for every single victim, and their families and friends. So painfully sad x
Wow wow wow I'm in disbelief. all of my prayers to Manchester.
The Rolling Stones are deeply shocked to hear of the appalling events in Manchester & send condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone effected by this horrible attack in Manchester. My heart is broken this morning.
My heart hurts for my sister, Ariana & every family affected by this tragic event in the U.K. Innocent lives lost. I'm so sorry to hear this
No words can describe how I feel about what happened in Manchester. I don't wanna believe that the world we live in could be so cruel.
Just saw the news about Manchester... Our hearts are breaking 💔 Prayers for all who attended, their families, Ari and her whole crew.
Praying for everyone at @ArianaGrande's show
My prayers are with you Manchester
Tearing up imagining innocent concert goers losing their lives.. praying for everyone and all #arianators. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
💔Absolutely sickened & angered by this senseless, evil attack. Thoughts are with everybody effected. Such a disturbing time we live in 😔
I am truly so sorry about what has happened in Manchester tonight. Unthinkable events. All my love to the families affected.
My heart breaks for everyone who endured the terrifying attack at Ariana Grande's show in Manchester. I'm praying for everyone there...
Please God may those injured in Manchester recover and my heart is breaking for the families of those killed.
Sending love to those affected in Manchester.
Hoping we can all push to create a world where this isn't a reality, prayers to #Manchester
oh god.......my heart is breaking hearing about this tragedy that happened at Manchester arena tonight...
We're on tour a half mile away from explosion but SAFE! Insane world. Grab all the peace and love you can. Praying now. #Manchester
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FROM SON TO KILLER

According to the Kalam Research think-tank, which has an office in Tripoli, Abedi's father Abu Ismail left Saudi Arabia for London in 1992 and joined the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in 1994.

Abedi's father and elder brother Ismail were active at Disbury Mosque in south Manchester, said a trustee of the mosque, Fawzi Haffar. U.S. security officials said Abedi also had a sister named Jomana.

Abu Ismail would read the call to prayer and Ismail worked as a volunteer, Haffar said.

"He (Abu Ismail) was devout as far as I know," Haffar added. "He's in Libya and has been for a while."

Abdalla Yousef, a spokesman for the mosque, said Abedi's father and the rest of the family apart from the two sons had returned to Libya in 2011 after the killing of Gadaffi.

Ismail was arrested by armed police in Chorlton, south Manchester.

Abedi attended Burnage Boys' School in south Manchester from 2009 to 2011, the school confirmed. He was a keen Manchester United fan.

"He always had a bit of an attitude problem," Leon Hall, who went to school with him, told the Daily Mail newspaper. "I can't say I really liked the man."

After leaving school, he went on to begin a business and management course in 2014 at the nearby University of Salford.

Alan Kinsey, 52, who lived in the house opposite Abedi, said he thought there had been just one man for the last 7-8 months and a couple had been living there as well before that.

He said the man used to wear traditional white Islamic dress, was aged in his 20s, 6 ft. 2-4ins (about 1.9 meters), and very skinny.

"No one really interacted with him," Kinsey said. (Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Angus MacSwan)

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