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UK Arrests 2 more in Hunt for Manchester Bomber Network | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police officers arrive at a residential property on Elsmore Road in Fallowfield, Manchester, on May 24, 2017, as investigations continue into the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena. AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF

British police said they arrested two men during raids Saturday in connection with the Manchester concert suicide bombing earlier this week, with a “large part” of the network behind the attack, which left 22 people dead, now being held.

The two men, aged 20 and 22, were arrested early Saturday on suspicion of terrorism offenses after police gained entry to an address in north Manchester using a controlled explosion.

Detectives are now questioning 11 men over the attack by Salman Abedi, 22, at the concert of US pop idol Ariana Grande on Monday.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing that also left 116 people injured.

Police in Libya have detained Abedi’s father and brother.

Mark Rowley, head of Britain’s counter-terrorism police, said on Friday that police had captured “a large part of the network” linked to the atrocity in which seven children aged under 18 were among the 22 dead.

“We are very happy we’ve got our hands around some of the key players that we are concerned about but there’s still a little bit more to do,” he said.

Despite the progress, extra armed officers will be on duty across the country with security stepped up at some 1,300 events over the long holiday weekend.

The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that intelligence officers had identified 23,000 jihahist extremists living in Britain.

But Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain lowered its security threat level to “severe” following significant activity by police investigating the Manchester attack.

The level was raised to “critical” – meaning another attack was thought to be imminent – after Monday’s bombing. It has now been downgraded to “severe”, which means an attack is considered highly likely.

As a result, soldiers who have been assisting police, would be withdrawn from Britain’s streets from midnight on Monday.

Political campaigning for the June 8 national election which was suspended after the Manchester attack resumed on Friday with the bombing becoming a central feature.

At the G7 summit meeting in Sicily, May faced questions from journalists over police funding cuts during her six years as interior minister.

“We have protected counter-terrorism police funding, we’ve increased the funding for our security and intelligence agencies and we continue to provide them with the support they need,” May said.

She also urged the G7 leaders to demand action from internet providers and social media companies to keep extremist content from getting online.

“The fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet,” she said.

The number of police officers fell by 14 percent, or almost 20,000, from 2009 to 2016, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.