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Suicide bomber wanted to avenge killing of friend

Source gives possible reason for motive behind Abedi's attack

MANCHESTER: The reasons for his cruelty went with him to the grave.

But a possible motive why Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people has emerged - he wanted to avenge the killing of a friend in the British city last year, a source close to his family told AFP yesterday.

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

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

British media reported that Mr Abdul Wahab Hafidah died after being run over and stabbed in the neck in Manchester's Moss Side district. His suspected killers are awaiting trial.

Meanwhile, Britain yesterday closed in on a jihadist network, with 11 people arrested in Britain and Libya over Monday's suicide bombing by British-born Abedi at the end of a pop concert in the city.

One woman, arrested by armed police on Wednesday, was released a few hours later without charge, leaving 10 men still in custody yesterday. They include Abedi's father, Ramadan, and younger brother, Hashem, in Libya.

A spokesman for the Deterrence Force, which acts as the Libyan Government of National Accord's police, said the brother was aware of Abedi's plan, and both siblings were members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Hashem had been "under surveillance for a month and a half", and "investigation teams supplied intelligence that he was planning a terrorist attack in capital Tripoli", the Deterrence Force said on its Facebook page.

A relative of Abedi told AFP that Abedi had travelled to Manchester from Libya four days before the bombing.

German police said he had made a brief stopover at Dusseldorf Airport.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Abedi had "likely" been to Syria after the trip to Libya, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

"In any case, the links with Daesh are proven," he said, using an alternative term for ISIS.

In another development, British authorities were left "furious" by the repeated leaks of material shared with their US counterparts.

British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to confront US President Donald Trump over the issue at the Nato summit in Brussels later yesterday.

In a televised statement, she said she would "make clear to Mr Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure".

Images obtained by The New York Times newspaper had shown a detonator said to have been carried in Abedi's left hand, shrapnel including nuts and screws as well as the shredded remains of a blue backpack.

'FURIOUS'

"We are furious. This is completely unacceptable," a government ministry source said of the images "leaked from inside the US system".

Manchester police chief Ian Hopkins said the leaks had "caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss".

The leak, which followed a similar disclosure of the bomber's identity and probe details, rocked the intelligence-sharing relationship between close allies London and Washington.

The British Counter Terrorism Policing body said the breach of trust caused great "damage" and "undermines our investigations".

Britain's terror threat assessment was hiked to "critical", the highest level, meaning an attack is considered imminent. Armed troops were also sent to guard key sites, a rare sight in mainland Britain.

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