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May infuriated by US intelligence leaks

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British Prime Minister Theresa May was not amused by the intelligence leak. AFP

LONDON/MANCHESTER (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday she would tell US President Donald Trump that intelligence shared between their two countries had to remain secure after leaks to US media about the Manchester attack.
 
British police stopped sharing information about the suicide bombing with the United States, a British counter-terrorism source said, after police chiefs said the leaks to media risked hindering their investigation.
 
Police are holding eight people in custody in connection with the attack, which killed 22 people, and Manchester’s Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the arrests were significant.
 
“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 told reporters.
 
The official threat level in Britain was raised after the Manchester attack to “critical”, its highest level, meaning a further attack could be imminent. Troops have been deployed to free up police officers for patrols and investigations.
 
Mr Hopkins said on Wednesday that the 22-year-old suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was part of a network. Born in Manchester to Libyan parents, Mr Abedi had recently returned from Libya, according to the interior minister.
 
He blew himself up at the Manchester Arena indoor venue after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, whose fan base is made up largely of children and teenagers. The victims ranged from an eight-year-old schoolgirl to parents who had come to pick up their children.
 
The attack also injured 116 people, of whom 75 were admitted to hospital and 23 remain in a very serious condition, health authorities said yesterday.
 
Mr Hopkins said the leaks of details of the investigation to US media, which included forensic photographs of the bomb site published by the New York Times, had been hurtful to the families of the victims.
 
“It is absolutely understandable the distress and upset that this caused to these families that are already suffering,” he said.
 
Ms May said she would talk to Mr Trump at a NATO summit later yesterday about the leaks, which included the publication of photographs of the bomb site by the New York Times.
 
“I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure,” she said in a televised statement.
 
The decision to stop sharing police information with US agencies was an extraordinary step as Britain sees the United States as its closest ally on security and intelligence.
 
“This is until such time as we have assurances that no further unauthorised disclosures will occur,” said the counter-terrorism source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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