Pictures have emerged showing the flat where Manchester bomber Salman Abedi is believed to have spent his final hours before carrying out his deadly attack.
The rented property, in Granby Row, central Manchester, could be where the 22-year-old prepared the explosives used in his suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena that killed 22 people and injured 64.
The terrorist was reportedly at the flat, which is less than two miles from the arena, until 7pm on Monday night – just three and a half hours before he blew himself up in the venue’s foyer.
The one-bed property was rented out on a short-term basis for £75 a night or £350 a week and is said to be owned by a local couple.
Police and military personnel believed to be SAS soldiers raided the flat on Wednesday morning, using explosives to blow off the door in order to disable any potential booby trap left by Abedi or his accomplices.
A similar tactic was used to gain entry to the Abedi family’s home on Elsmore Road, south Manchester, on Tuesday.
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.
While nobody is believed to have been arrested during the Granby Row raid, police have detained eight people during a series of other operations. More raids were carried out on Thursday morning in Wigan, Nuneaton and other locations in Manchester.
The bomb used in the attack was similar to those used in the 2005 London bombings and included the explosive TATP, according to reports in the US. The same explosive was used in attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016.
One US intelligence official told NBC News the bomb was “big and sophisticated” and made of materials that are difficult to obtain in Britain, meaning “it’s almost impossible to see he didn’t have help”.
Security sources said the device could have been manufactured "on a kitchen table".
Investigators have said they suspect Abedi was part of a bigger cell that could be planning further attacks.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said detectives had made “significant” developments in their investigation.
“I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant, and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation”, he said.
The days since Monday’s attack have been “intense” for police staff, he added.
In addition to the arrests in the UK, Abedi's father, Ramadan, and younger brother, Hashem, were detained in Libya on Wednesday.
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