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Manchester Holds Memorial For Victims Of Concert Suicide Bombing


Across the U.K. this morning, people paused to remember the victims of the Manchester suicide bombing. Bells rang out in St. Ann's Square in Manchester.



Meanwhile, British officials angrily protested leaks of evidence from the investigation. They blame those leaks on U.S. intelligence agencies. We're joined now by NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Manchester. Hi, Soraya.


SHAPIRO: It's been three days now since the attack outside the Ariana Grande concert. Describe what the scene in Manchester feels like today.

NELSON: Well, people are still so amazingly in touch with each other and hugging each other. I mean strangers are just getting together. Pink balloons were released into the sky after this minute of silence. And there's this amazing floral tribute in one of the squares here where you just - I mean there are, like - it looks like about thousands of bouquets of flowers and messages and notes for the victims and - just in solidarity with the people here. I talked to Laura Andrews, who was carrying one of those bouquets to place on the growing pile.

LAURA ANDREWS: I think it's affected people from all over the world and all parts of the country. And I think it's really important that we all pay our respects.

NELSON: We learned the identity of more of the victims today, and it was really sad. I mean every time you hear about this, it's sad. But there was certainly some comfort provided by Queen Elizabeth, who came to Manchester today and met with some of the youngest victims during a half-hour visit to a children's hospital here in the city.

SHAPIRO: Bring us up to speed on the latest with the investigation into the attack.

NELSON: Well, at this point, there have been eight men that are - that have been arrested and are in custody. We don't know who they are other than the first one who was arrested, who is the older brother of the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi. Nor do we know whether they actually have - whether they've caught the person who made or supplied the bomb. And Greater Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins says the arrests have led to follow-up raids. But again, more defensiveness than details is what we were hearing.


CHIEF IAN HOPKINS: 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.

NELSON: And what's interesting is that the people in Manchester accept that. They think - or the ones that I spoke to anyway say the police is doing a really good job, and they're willing to be patient to await the outcome of the investigation.

SHAPIRO: We've heard complaints all week from British authorities about leaks that they say are coming from the Americans. And today Manchester Police say they are no longer sharing intelligence with their U.S. counterparts. Tell us about what led to that.

NELSON: Well, British investigators were already annoyed with the Americans because the name of the bomber had been released, and they were blaming Americans for. But the last straw was when The New York Times published forensic photos that showed pieces of the backpack that was believed used to carry the explosives as well as the possible switch that was used by Salman Abedi to set the explosives off.

It's not really clear from the newspaper where that information came from, but Manchester Mayor Andrew Burnham told the BBC that he complained to the acting U.S. ambassador about the damage that those leaks could cause. The American diplomat in a later BBC interview called the leaks reprehensible, and he condemned them while President Trump called for an investigation. And it seems that those gestures were enough to appease British investigators, and so they said they would lift the ban on sharing information with the Americans with regards to this particular investigation. There was never a ban on other items.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Manchester, England. Thanks, Soraya.

NELSON: You're welcome, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.