France warns Manchester attacker had "proven" links to ISIS

Reports this morning indicate the suspect returned to the UK from Libya just days before the attack

France warns Manchester attacker had "proven" links to ISIS

Police officers stand guard close to Victoria Railway Station in Manchester,24-05-2017. Image: AP Photo/Dave Thompson

France’s interior minister has warned that the man believed to be responsible for Monday night’s suicide attack in Manchester had “proven” links to ISIS.

The suspect has been named by police as Salman Abedi and reports this morning indicate he had returned to the UK from a trip to Libya just days before carrying out the attack.

ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack, which involved a homemade device packed with nuts and bolts.

In a statement on social media, the terror group said one of its soldiers had “placed bombs among the crowds.”

Speaking on French television this morning, French interior minister Gerard Collomb warned that Abedi is believed to have also travelled to Syria and had proven links to ISIS.

"Today we only know what British investigators have told us - someone of British nationality, of Libyan origin, who suddenly after a trip to Libya, then probably to Syria, becomes radicalised and decides to carry out this attack," He told BFMTV.

He said both British and French intelligence services believed Abedi had been in Syria adding, “in any case he had links with Daesh (ISIS) that are proven.”

Meanwhile the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said the attacker was known “up to a point” to British intelligence services.

She said it “seems likely” that he was not acting alone.

The UK terror threat level has been raised from severe to critical - the highest possible level - after the Manchester Arena bombing.

In a speech last night, Theresa May said that she believed that another attack may be "imminent" following the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena in which 22 people died.

Under ‘Operation Temperer,’ members of the armed forces could be deployed to public events, such as concerts and sports events - and also on the streets around Britain and at major shopping centres.

Ms Rudd said up to 3,800 soldiers will be deployed across the UK as part of the operation.

"The whole point about Operation Temperer is that it provides a facility for the police to get that additional support so that they can go and continue to do other elements,” she said.

"Until we can be reassured that there is no continued activity around this operation, it is entirely safe around this operation, then it is right that we are at this heightened state of alert.

"It is operationally driven. It is intelligence driven, and we must make sure that we allow our counter terrorism police, our police and our intelligence services to get on and do their job - and this helps give them the space to do just that."

She said she “absolutely” expects the raised threat level to be temporary.