The father of the Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi has claimed his son is innocent.
Abedi’s father Ramadan Abedi said he spoke to his son, the 22-year-old suicide bomber, five days ago and he sounded “normal”.
Salman Abedi died after blowing himself up in a crowd of people leaving Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night.
He killed 22 people and left dozens more seriously wounded during the horrific attack. An eight-year-old girl, Saffie Roussos, and two teenagers were among the victims killed.
But on Wednesday, father Ramadan Abedi denied his son was even linked to militants or the suicide bombing.
He said that his son visited Libya a month and a half ago and was preparing to get ready to go to Saudi Arabia.
The elder Abedi told the Associated Press by telephone from the Libyan capital of Tripoli: “We don’t believe in killing innocents. This is not us.”
He said his other son, Ismail, was arrested in England on Tuesday morning.
According to the father, Salman Abedi was planning to return to the family home to Libya for the month of Ramadan.
The claim comes as Greater Manchester Police confirmed in a statement that an off-duty female police officer was one of the victims killed in the attack.
Ian Hopkins, chief constable of the force, said the bombing on Monday is part of a network which police are now investigating. Four people are currently being held by police in custody.
“It’s a network we are investigating,” the top police officer said. “It continues at a pace and there’s extensive investigations.”
London is currently on high alert with soldiers being deployed to “key locations” across the capital.
The extra military presence means armed police are freed up to boost security elsewhere in the country.
Faces of the tragic victims who perished in Manchester bombinga
Scotland Yard announced troops were being sent to guard terrorist targets including Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, the Palace of Westminster and foreign embassies.
Armed police are likely to guard concerts in the capital this weekend and at major events such as the Chelsea Flower Show.
It comes after security services raised the UK’s threat level to critical – meaning an attack is imminent – with 984 military personnel deployed across the country.
There are fears the Islamist bombmaker may still be at large because of the sophistication of the explosive device used in Manchester, but Chief Constable Hopkins refused to answer questions whether they had found a “bomb factory”.