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UK politics resume after attack; Corbyn links terror to wars

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/26/2017 By GREGORY KATZ and ROB HARRIS, Associated Press
Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech during a General Election campaign event in central London Friday May 26, 2017. Britain with hold a general election on June 8. ( Jonathan Brady/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech during a General Election campaign event in central London Friday May 26, 2017. Britain with hold a general election on June 8. ( Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Four days after a suicide bombing plunged Britain into mourning, political campaigning resumed Friday for next month's general election with the main opposition leader linking deadly terrorism at home to foreign wars like the one in Libya.

A man stands next to flowers for the victims of Monday's bombing at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Friday, May 26 2017. British police investigating the Manchester Arena bombing arrested a ninth man while continuing to search addresses associated with the bomber. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press A man stands next to flowers for the victims of Monday's bombing at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Friday, May 26 2017. British police investigating the Manchester Arena bombing arrested a ninth man while continuing to search addresses associated with the bomber. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn risked being assailed for politicizing the attack on Manchester Arena that killed 22 people by claiming in his first post-atrocity speech that his party would change Britain's foreign policy if it takes power after the June 8 vote by abandoning the "war on terror."

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)

"Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home," he said as national campaigning resumed after a hiatus to honor the victims in the arena blast.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. right, speaks to Millie Robson, 15, and her mother, Marie, 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 Millie Robson, 15, and her mother, Marie, 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)

Salman Abedi, the bomber who struck the Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, had strong links to Libya. His parents had been born there before moving to Britain and he traveled there on occasion.

Armed British Transport Police Specialist Operations officers on board a train to Birmingham New Street at Euston station in London as armed police officers are patrolling on board trains nationwide for the first time Thursday May 25, 2017. British Transport Police announced the measure in a bid to "disrupt and deter criminal activity" on the rail network after the UK terror threat level rose to critical in the wake of the Manchester attack. (Yui Mok/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Armed British Transport Police Specialist Operations officers on board a train to Birmingham New Street at Euston station in London as armed police officers are patrolling on board trains nationwide for the first time Thursday May 25, 2017. British Transport Police announced the measure in a bid to "disrupt and deter criminal activity" on the rail network after the UK terror threat level rose to critical in the wake of the Manchester attack. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon was quick to attack Corbyn for his comments.

"Jeremy Corbyn could be prime minister of our country in less than two weeks' time, yet he has said only days after one of the worst terrorist atrocities this country has ever known that terror attacks in Britain are our own fault," Fallon said.

While Corbyn faces criticism for his comments, he is trying to win back the many Labour supporters who turned away from the party in the aftermath of then Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Blair's backing of U.S. President George W. Bush brought more than 1 million protesters into the streets. When the rationale for war failed to pan out because weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, Blair's popularity faded badly after a string of election victories.

When home-grown terrorists attacked London subway and bus lines in 2005, some blamed Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. Corbyn's speech reflects the view that Britain's actions overseas are at least in part responsible for the increase in extremist attacks.

The Labour Party under Corbyn has trailed Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives in the polls, but has begun to make gains in the last week. It is unclear how the worst attack in Britain in more than a decade will impact voter sentiment.

British police investigating the Manchester bombing made a new arrest Friday while continuing to search several properties.

Seven other men are being held on suspicion of offenses violating the Terrorism Act. Their ages ranged from 18 to 38.

A 16-year-old boy and a 34-year-old woman who had been arrested were released without charge, police said.

Authorities are chasing possible links between the Abedi and militants in Manchester, elsewhere in Europe, and in North Africa and the Middle East. Britain's security level has been upgraded to "critical" meaning officials believe another attack may be imminent.

Abedi, a college dropout who had grown up in the Manchester area, was known to security services because of his radical views. His parents came to Britain early in the 1990s.

He reportedly was in contact with family members just before the attack.

The name of the man arrested in the early hours Friday and those of the seven others in custody were not released. No one has yet been charged in the bombing.

London police say extra security is being added for major sporting events this weekend including the FA Cup soccer final at Wembley Stadium.

Chief Superintendent Jon Williams said Friday extra protection measures and extra officers are being deployed throughout the capital because of the increased terrorist threat level.

He said fans coming to soccer and rugby matches this weekend should come earlier than usual because of added security screening.

Williams said "covert and discrete tactics" will also be in place to protect the transport network.

He says police want the approach to be "unpredictable" and to make London "as hostile an environment as possible to terrorists."

British police working on the case have resumed intelligence-sharing with U.S. counterparts after a brief halt because of anger over leaks to U.S. media thought by Britain to be coming from U.S. officials.

British officials say that have received assurances from U.S. authorities that confidential material will be protected.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in London Friday that the U.S. accepts responsibility for the leaks.

At the mosque that Abedi attended in Manchester, director of trustees Mohammed el-Khayat told worshippers that police would be told if anyone shows signs of having been radicalized.

"The police will be the first to know," he said before Friday afternoon prayers. He strongly condemned the attack and said radical views will not be tolerated.

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Rob Harris reported from Manchester.

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