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UK bomber said to have told mother 'Forgive me' before blast

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/25/2017 By JILL LAWLESS, PAISLEY DODDS, MAGGIE MICHAEL and GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press
People observe a minutes silence in Westminster in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press People observe a minutes silence in Westminster in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Britons faced stepped-up security, authorities pushed forward with raids they said were uncovering key evidence and a trans-Atlantic rift opened Thursday in the aftermath of a deadly concert bombing.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Amy Barlow, 12, from Rawtenstall, Lancashire, left, and her mother, Kathy, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Amy Barlow, 12, from Rawtenstall, Lancashire, left, and her mother, Kathy, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP)

The investigation of the Manchester Arena attack that killed 22 people extended across Europe and into Libya, where most of the suspected bomber's family lived. Authorities in multiple countries worked to determine if Salman Abedi, who died in the blast, acted alone or with assistance from a sophisticated cell.

An armed soldier and policeman stand guard at Parliament, in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. Armed troops are guarding vital locations in the country after the official threat level was raised to its highest point following a suicide bombing that killed more than 20 in Manchester. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press An armed soldier and policeman stand guard at Parliament, in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. Armed troops are guarding vital locations in the country after the official threat level was raised to its highest point following a suicide bombing that killed more than 20 in Manchester. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

After Abedi's mother and three of his siblings were brought in for questioning, a Libyan official told of a final phone call he placed to his mother and brother just before the attack. On that call, he purportedly told his mother: "Forgive me," said Ahmed bin Salem, a spokesman for the Special Deterrent Force.

A police officer at the scene at an address in Nuneaton, England Thursday May 25, 2017 where they arrested a seventh suspect in the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing. British police have arrested a seventh person in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing. The man was held Wednesday after police carried out searches in the English town of Nuneaton, which is about 161 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manchester.(Joe Giddens/PA via AP) © The Associated Press A police officer at the scene at an address in Nuneaton, England Thursday May 25, 2017 where they arrested a seventh suspect in the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing. British police have arrested a seventh person in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing. The man was held Wednesday after police carried out searches in the English town of Nuneaton, which is about 161 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manchester.(Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

"He was giving farewell," bin Salem added.

A woman looks at the floral tributes and messages left for the victims of the concert blast, during a vigil at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. British police say officers investigating the Manchester Arena concert blast have arrested a fifth suspect, and are assessing a package the suspect was carrying. Greater Manchester Police said the suspect was detained in Wigan, a town to the west of Manchester. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP) © The Associated Press A woman looks at the floral tributes and messages left for the victims of the concert blast, during a vigil at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. British police say officers investigating the Manchester Arena concert blast have arrested a fifth suspect, and are assessing a package the suspect was carrying. Greater Manchester Police said the suspect was detained in Wigan, a town to the west of Manchester. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

The number of arrests in the U.K. ticked up to eight as British Transport Police said armed officers would begin patrols on some trains because of an increased threat of terrorism.

Police officers inspect litter bins in central Manchester, Britain, Thursday May 25 2017. Police are searching a new site in Manchester suspected of links to Monday's bombing at a pop concert. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press Police officers inspect litter bins in central Manchester, Britain, Thursday May 25 2017. Police are searching a new site in Manchester suspected of links to Monday's bombing at a pop concert. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said, without elaborating, that searches of suspects' homes brought "very important" clues in the probe of Monday's bombing at the close of an Ariana Grande show. But leaks from the investigation were creating a diplomatic mess.

Police at the scene at an address in Nuneaton, England Thursday May 25, 2017 where they arrested a seventh suspect in the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing. British police have arrested a seventh person in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing. The man was held Wednesday after police carried out searches in the English town of Nuneaton, which is about 161 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manchester.(Joe Giddens/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Police at the scene at an address in Nuneaton, England Thursday May 25, 2017 where they arrested a seventh suspect in the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing. British police have arrested a seventh person in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing. The man was held Wednesday after police carried out searches in the English town of Nuneaton, which is about 161 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manchester.(Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Manchester police have stopped sharing investigative information with the U.S. until they are guaranteed an end to media leaks, a British official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

A woman reacts as people look at tributes in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, ahead of a minute's silence for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP) © The Associated Press A woman reacts as people look at tributes in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, ahead of a minute's silence for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May, arriving at a NATO summit in Brussels, said the countries' partnership on defense and security was built on trust, but "part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently." May discussed the matter privately with Trump later in the day.

People hold a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press People hold a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

British officials were particularly angry over photos published by The New York Times showing remnants of a blue backpack which may have held the explosive, a 12-volt battery that apparently powered the device and a possible switch in the left hand of the alleged bomber that could have ignited it.

A woman reads a newspaper reporting in the front about the suicide attack at a concert by Ariana Grande and in the back page about the victory of Manchester United winning the soccer Europa League final, before holding a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press A woman reads a newspaper reporting in the front about the suicide attack at a concert by Ariana Grande and in the back page about the victory of Manchester United winning the soccer Europa League final, before holding a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

But it wasn't clear U.S. officials were the source of the images, which the Times defended as "neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims" and consistent with basic reporting "on weapons used in horrific crimes."

People attend a one minute silence to the victims of Monday's explosion at St Ann's Square in Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening . (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press People attend a one minute silence to the victims of Monday's explosion at St Ann's Square in Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening . (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

British security services were also upset that 22-year-old Abedi's name was apparently leaked by U.S. officials while police in the U.K. continued withholding it and while raids were underway in Manchester and in Libya. Hopkins said the leaks "caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss."

People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Trump on Thursday pledged to "get to the bottom" of the leaks, calling them "deeply troubling" and asking the Justice Department and other agencies to "launch a complete review of this matter."

People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Meanwhile, the investigation into the blast widened.

People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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Authorities chased possible links between Abedi and militants in Manchester, elsewhere in Europe, and in North Africa and the Middle East. They were exploring potential ties to Abdalraouf Abdallah, a Libyan jailed in the U.K. for terror offenses, and to Raphael Hostey, an Islamic State recruiter killed in Syria.

A member of the public reacts at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira) © The Associated Press A member of the public reacts at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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Abedi's family remained a focus, too, with a brother in England, his father and another brother in Libya among those being detained. Abedi's father was allegedly a member of the al-Qaida-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting group in the 1990s — a claim he denies.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP)

An emerging portrait of the bomber remained complicated by competing assessments over whether Abedi held views that had sparked concern and attention before the bombing.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, her mother, Karen, left, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, speaks to Evie Mills, 14, from Harrogate, her mother, Karen, left, and her father Craig, as she visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester England, to meet victims of the terror attack in the city earlier this week and to thank members of staff who treated them Thursday May 25, 2017. (Peter Byrne/Pool via AP)

Akram Ramadan, a member of the Libyan community in Manchester who attends the city's Didsbury Mosque, said Abedi was banned from the mosque after he allegedly interrupted an imam's anti-Islamic State sermon.

Britain's Prince Charles meets children at the Oval cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. On the pitch The Prince met members of eight teams from eight local primary schools taking part in a cricket competition. The eight teams are representing each of the Nations competing in the ICC Champions Trophy (England; New Zealand; Australia; South Africa; India; Pakistan; Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka). (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Britain's Prince Charles meets children at the Oval cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. On the pitch The Prince met members of eight teams from eight local primary schools taking part in a cricket competition. The eight teams are representing each of the Nations competing in the ICC Champions Trophy (England; New Zealand; Australia; South Africa; India; Pakistan; Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka). (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

"He stood up and started calling the imam — 'You are talking bollocks,'" Ramadan said. "And he gave a good stare, a threatening stare into the imam's eyes."

Britain's Prince Charles adjusts his sun glasses as he arrives at the Oval Cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. On the pitch The Prince met members of eight teams from eight local primary schools taking part in a cricket competition. The eight teams are representing each of the Nations competing in the ICC Champions Trophy (England; New Zealand; Australia; South Africa; India; Pakistan; Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka). (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) © The Associated Press Britain's Prince Charles adjusts his sun glasses as he arrives at the Oval Cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 25, 2017. On the pitch The Prince met members of eight teams from eight local primary schools taking part in a cricket competition. The eight teams are representing each of the Nations competing in the ICC Champions Trophy (England; New Zealand; Australia; South Africa; India; Pakistan; Bangladesh; and Sri Lanka). (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Mohammed Fadl, a community leader, rejected that account. While Abedi's family was well-known in Manchester, Abedi himself did not attend many gatherings, Fadl said.

People look at tributes in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, ahead of a minute's silence for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP) © The Associated Press People look at tributes in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, ahead of a minute's silence for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

However, Fadl said he had heard Abedi's father took his son's passport away over concerns about his ties to alleged extremists and criminals.

People hold a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP) © The Associated Press People hold a minute of silence in a square in central Manchester, England, Thursday, May 25, 2017, for the victims of the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead and many more injured, as it ended on Monday night at the Manchester Arena. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

"Very few people in the community here were close to him, and therefore Salman's fanaticism wasn't something the community was aware of," he said.

Police officers patrol as people queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press Police officers patrol as people queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

In Libya, bin Salem said Abedi's mother told investigators her son left for the U.K. four days before the attack after spending a month in Libya. Based on the account from a younger brother, investigators think Abedi used the internet to learn how to make a bomb and "seek victory for the Islamic State," bin Salem said.

People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press People queue to place flowers at St Ann's square in central Manchester, England Thursday May 25 2017. More than 20 people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the venue late Monday evening. Britons will find armed troops at vital locations Wednesday after the official threat level was raised to its highest point. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

The allegations clashed with what Abedi's father said a day earlier in an interview with the AP. "We don't believe in killing innocents," Ramadan Abedi said before he was detained in Tripoli.

Around the U.K., many fell silent Thursday for a late-morning minute in tribute to the victims.

In Manchester's St. Ann's Square, where a sea of floral tributes grew by the hour, a crowd sang the hometown band Oasis' song "Don't Look Back in Anger." Queen Elizabeth II visited Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, telling 14-year-old Evie Mills and her parents: "It's dreadful. Very wicked, to target that sort of thing."

Fifteen-year-old Millie Robson, wearing one of Grande's T-shirts, told the queen she had won VIP tickets to the pop star's concert. She recalled leaving the concert when the blast struck and remembered an intense ringing in her ears, but not being entirely aware that she was bleeding badly from her legs.

The teenager credited her father's quick action in picking her up and tying off her wounds to stem the bleeding.

"Compared to other people I'm quite lucky really," she said.

In addition to those killed, 116 people received medical treatment at Manchester hospitals for wounds from the blast. The National Health Service said 75 people were hospitalized.

___

Dodds and Katz reported from London; Michael reported from Cairo. Contributing to this report were Sylvia Hui in London; Rob Harris in Manchester; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Julie Pace in Brussels; and Matt Sedensky in New York.

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