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Salman Abedi: rented bomb-factory flat 'smelt of chemicals', landlord says

Bomber had turned off electricity and disabled smoke alarms as he made deadly device

Benjamin Kentish
Saturday 27 May 2017 15:12 BST
Police guard the tower block flat in Blackley where Salman Abedi is thought to have constructed his bomb
Police guard the tower block flat in Blackley where Salman Abedi is thought to have constructed his bomb (Getty Images)

New details have emerged about the Manchester flat in which the 22-year-old terrorist Salman Abedi carefully constructed his bomb.

The device, which killed 22 people and injured 64 when it was detonated at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, is believed to have been made in a tower block flat rented by Abedi in Blackley, a suburb in north Manchester.

The landlord of the property is said to have told friends that the flat smelled of chemicals and contained what he now believes were pieces of bomb-making equipment.

Abedi is also said to have used a pen to cross out children’s stickers that had been stuck to the wall, believing they were not compatible with the teachings of Islam.

Bed clothes for more than one person were found at the flat, and a younger man is said to have been with Abedi when the rental was agreed.

Landlord Aimen Elwafi was “in tears” when he realised his tenant had carried out the deadly attack, a friend, Mohammed El-Hudarey, told the BBC.

“He was shocked and in a bad situation” he said . “Very upset. There were tears coming from his eyes."

Mr Elwafi is said to have informed police immediately after realising the connection, despite having breached the terms of his own tenancy by subletting the flat to Abedi.

Mr El-Hudarey said Abedi had responded to an advert in early March, saying he wanted to rent the property for two months. The terrorist told the landlord he was a student and worked as a delivery driver at night.

Mr Elwafi is said to have received a late-night call from Abedi around six weeks ago, saying he would be “flying abroad” and no longer needed the flat. It is believed the 22-year-old flew to Libya, where his parents and two of his three siblings live.

Security officials are said to be investigating whether he also travelled on to Syria, possibly to meet with a handler or attend a training camp.

Manchester terror attack: What we know so far

Mr Elwafi headed straight to the flat after receiving the call but said Abedi had already left.

At the property, the landlord discovered squares of cut up curtain-like material, a metal rod in the bath and a chemical smell. The electricity had been turned off and a smoke alarm disconnected, Mr El-Hudarey claimed.

Mr Elwafi did not report it to police because it did not occur to him that it could have been related to terrorism.

The Granby Row flat in central Manchester where Salman Abedi reportedly spent his last hours

"We didn't even think 1 per cent he was a terrorist or a bomb-maker”, Mr El-Hudarey said. “We thought he must have been a drug dealer or doing witchcraft."

There are now three properties believed to have been used by Abedi to make his bomb. In addition to the Blackley flat, police are also reported to have discovered extensive bomb-making materials at the Abedi home in Fallowfield, south Manchester, prompting fears that other explosive devices could have been made.

ABC News reported that investigators had found a “huge load of unused chemicals” at the house.

A rented flat in Granby Row, central Manchester, was also raided earlier in the week and is believed to be where Abedi assembled his device and spent the last few hours before the bombing.

The flat is less than two miles from Manchester Arena and can be rented on a short-term basis for £75 a night or £350 a week.

Neighbours reported a large number of packages being delivered to the Granby Row flat in recent weeks, while others are said to have noticed a “strong smell of explosives” coming from behind the door in the days prior to the attack.

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