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World

Police Continue Manchester Bombing Investigation

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

British security services have arrested three more people in connection with the Manchester bombing that left 22 people dead. The country remains on its highest alert after that attack. British troops have been deployed at key locations around the country, while investigators try to learn whether the bomber acted alone or whether more attacks are possible. NPR's Frank Langfitt is in Manchester, England, and he's on the line. Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What can you tell us about the people who've been arrested today?

LANGFITT: Well, we know that they were arrested in south Manchester. That is where the bomber himself lived. I was in his neighborhood just last night. Police here won't give any further details. What we do know is they're very concerned about the idea that this fellow was working with a network.

In some of my conversations that I've had with people who are following this very closely, the feeling is that they were aware of the bomber, but they didn't think that he had the sort of ability to pull off something like this, something of such sophistication and something so effective and deadly. And so that's why they're out right now looking for other people.

MARTIN: So we mentioned that British security forces are scattered around the country. They're armed. What does that look like? What does it feel like on the streets?

LANGFITT: Well, it's very noticeable. And the mood here's very different than it might have been even two or three days ago. I'm at the Manchester Piccadilly rail station. I came in here from London. You walk out the doors, and the first thing that you see are two heavily armed police officers with automatic weapons and body armor.

And they are out there scanning the crowd as people have been coming in for rush hour this morning to work in Manchester, so very much a sense of a lot of guns on the street. And the number that I heard earlier today - 3,800 troops. I've not seen troops this morning, but I haven't been out and about much beyond the rail station, mostly been here talking to people.

MARTIN: So you've been talking to people there in the train station. What are they saying?

LANGFITT: They're very anxious. You know, as you would imagine, this threat alert, it hasn't been this high since 2007. And what it says, basically, is another attack could be imminent. I was talking to a guy named Dafid Rees (ph). He's 20, physiotherapy student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

He and his roommates sometimes work at the arena where the attack happened earlier this week. And I was talking about his reaction to Monday's bombing and then last night when he heard that the threat level had gone up to imminent. Here's what he said.

DAFID REES: It was crazy to think we could have been there. And then for that to be said on national TV is like, what are we going to do next? You know, carry on as life as normal, but then, when someone says that, you just want to stay in your house. And it's just like, it catches your breath. You know, you just feel helpless around these situations, you know.

LANGFITT: Yeah. And so, you know, I was in the neighborhood last night, trying to learn a little bit more about Salman Abedi. And one of the things I talked to - I talked to a Libyan neighbor. And it turns out that Abedi was originally of Libyan descent. His father was from Libya. Quiet person, people didn't have a strong impression of him in the neighborhood.

And that's, of course, something that police here are going to be looking into very closely. How did he come to this state that he would blow himself up outside of a concert?

MARTIN: NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting from Manchester, England. Thanks so much, Frank.

LANGFITT: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.