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Images of Salman Abedi moments before the blast

Police have altered the background of this CCTV image of Salman Abedi, so as to not identify those who were near him when he detonated his bomb.
Police have altered the background of this CCTV image of Salman Abedi, so as to not identify those who were near him when he detonated his bomb. Greater Manchester Police via AP

LEANING back nonchalantly with his hands thrust casually into the pockets of his black body warmer, there is nothing about Salman Abedi's relaxed demeanour that betrays his monstrous intent.

Yet minutes after these freshly released photographs were taken, he would detonate the nail bomb in his backpack, killing 22 people, many of them children, and maiming dozens more.

Though facing his own death, too, there is nothing about his manner or his appearance to separate him from the countless other young men hanging around Manchester city centre last Monday night.

He blends in with the crowd with his casual attire: a Hollister body warmer, his best Nike Air Jordan trainers, a black baseball cap, navy jeans with turn-ups.

These images, taken from CCTV cameras, were released yesterday by detectives piecing together the final movements of the callous killer.

Police have altered the background of this CCTV image of Salman Abedi, so as to not identify those who were near him when he detonated his bomb.
Police have altered the background of this CCTV image of Salman Abedi, so as to not identify those who were near him when he detonated his bomb. Greater Manchester Police via AP

And in both pictures, the police have blacked out the background, suggesting they wished to protect the identities of people standing next to him at the time.

Officers have not said where the 22-year-old was standing or exactly when on Monday night the images were captured.

But as he appears to be waiting, it is possible he had already reached his destination: the Manchester Arena, where thousands of children and their parents were attending the Ariana Grande concert.

Only the straps of the rucksack - a bag containing tricyclic acetone peroxide, bolts and nails - are visible in the pictures. At 10.30pm, he detonated the 'highly sophisticated' device.

The release of the images comes as Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing.

Prime Minister Theresa May said "a significant amount of police activity" and several arrests had led to the level being lowered.

But she urged Britons to remain vigilant and said soldiers would remain at high-profile sites throughout the current holiday weekend.

The troops will gradually be withdrawn from Monday, Ms May said.

A severe threat means an attack is "highly likely," according to the scale set by Britain's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. Until it was raised Tuesday, it had stayed at severe since mid-2014.

Police made two more attests on Saturday, bringing the number of suspects in custody to 11. All are men, aged between 18 and 44.

Greater Manchester Police said two men, aged 20 and 22, were detained early Saturday in the northwest England city on suspicion of terrorism offences. Police used an explosive device to get into a property to make the arrests.

Topics:  ariana grande editors picks manchester blast

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