Manchester attack: 'Trainee pilot' arrested in West Sussex in connection to bombing

‘He was a normal bloke, very jovial,’ neighbour says

Samuel Osborne,Caroline Mortimer
Monday 29 May 2017 13:43 BST
Police arrive at a property in Brunswick Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, exactly a week since the Manchester Arena terror attack took place
Police arrive at a property in Brunswick Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, exactly a week since the Manchester Arena terror attack took place

A trainee pilot has been arrested in West Sussex in connection with the inquiry into the Manchester bombing.

The 23-year-old was held on suspicion of terror offences at an address in Shoreham-by-Sea, Greater Manchester Police said.

Investigators have been tracking alleged members of the bomb plot basing themselves away from the city, a security source told The Independent.

However, they said it was “a coincidence that the suspect is a trainee pilot”.

Bomber Salman Abedi pictured moments before Manchester Arena massacre

He is the 16th person to be arrested in connection with the attack, which killed 22 people and injured more than 100.

Violet Mainda, who owns a hairdresser’s salon beneath the flat where he was arrested, described him as “a very nice bloke”.

She added: “He was a client. He was a normal bloke, very jovial.

“I think he had finished, or was still training, to be a pilot.

“He told me but I can't quite remember what he said. He was from Libya.”

The Independent understands that the arrest is not thought to be linked to anything other than the Manchester attack.

Shoreham Airfield, also known as Brighton City Airport, said they did not have anyone available for comment.

Meanwhile, Azmal Chaudhury, who runs the Palki Indian restaurant opposite, told The Independent that the man came in relatively often and seemed “quite normal”.

He said he usually came in alone and lived in the flat opposite, he believed he had a Western girlfriend he lived with but he was not sure.

Early morning raids were also carried out at a house in Manchester, along with searches carried out in Chester.

The Bank Holiday raids followed a flurry of police activity in Manchester over the weekend, with the arrest of a 25-year-old man in Old Trafford and a 19-year-old man in Gorton.

MI5 has reportedly launched two urgent inquiries into whether it missed the danger posed by Abedi, 22, amid allegations it was warned of his deadly intent.

The domestic security service is said to be investigating whether any glaring errors were made in the handling of intelligence before the attack last Monday night.

The block of flats were the new suspect is believed to live in Shoreham

Spy chiefs are believed to have held an emergency review in the days after the atrocity, while a separate in-depth inquiry is being conducted to look at the decision making surrounding his case before the massacre, the Guardian reports.

A senior Whitehall source previously has said Abedi was a “former subject of interest” to the security services whose risk “remained subject to review”.

In the wake of the attack it emerged British counter-terror authorities were grappling with 500 investigations into 3,000 individuals.

Security sources later confirmed that a further 20,000 individuals were said to have been considered “subjects of interest” in the past, meaning as many as 23,000 people have appeared on the radar of counter-terror agencies, although the period the figures cover is unclear.

Additional reporting by PA

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