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25 May, 2017 11:44

8 arrests are ‘significant’ to Manchester terrorist attack probe – police

8 arrests are ‘significant’ to Manchester terrorist attack probe – police

Greater Manchester Police say eight arrests made in relation to the terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday are “significant” and that recent raids have revealed items “very important” to the investigation.

Greater Manchester Police say a house in Wigan, Northern England, is being searched in connection with the terror attack.

Police arrested a man in Wigan, a town 17 miles to the west of Manchester city centre, on Wednesday.

“Following this arrest a house in Wigan was raided this morning and is currently being searched,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement on Twitter.

Meanwhile, a house in Withington in Manchester has been sealed off by police.

It is believed a bomb squad attended the property but left soon after.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins says the investigation continues to be “very fast moving” with a “significant amount of activity occurring."

He says there are eight men currently in custody. 

Hopkins says officers are carrying out a number of searches relating to those who have been arrested.

“I want to reassure people that the arrests we have made are significant and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation.

“These searches will take several days to complete.”

Two men were arrested in Manchester on Thursday morning. One of them was detained following searches of an address in the Withington area of the city, while the other was arrested in a part of Greater Manchester that was not disclosed.

A woman arrested in the Blackley area of Manchester on Wednesday has been released without charge.

The men are in custody following raids across Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton, and Warwickshire, following the terrorist attack by Salman Abedi that claimed 22 lives.

One of those detained in Manchester is Abedi's older brother, Ismail, 23.

Abedi's father, Ramadan Abedi, was arrested in Tripoli with the bomber's brother Hashim, who Libyan security forces said was "aware of all the details" of the attack.

Hopkins says the incident in Hulme, where army bomb disposal units were dispatched to attend to a “suspicious package” on Thursday morning, “is not necessarily related to the wider [Manchester terrorism] investigation.”

Meanwhile, armed police will patrol trains across the country from Thursday for the first time, British Transport Police said, after the terror threat level was raised to ‘critical’ following the terror attack on Monday night.

Members of the armed forces have been deployed to key sites to boost security since the threat was raised to its highest level for the first time in 10 years.

Armed officers have been regularly patrolling the London Underground since December last year, but this will be the first time they have will have patrolled on board train services elsewhere in the country, the police said.

“By having firearms officers on board trains we're ensuring that trains remain as safe as possible for passengers. Our patrols will be highly visible and passengers should feel comforted by their presence,” British Transport Police Chief Constable Paul Crowther said in a statement.

Crowther said the move was not due to any specific intelligence related to trains but was part of the national plan to deal with the continuing threat.