British police chiefs have stopped sharing information on the Manchester concert bombing with the US after the American media leaked crime scene pictures that showed the bomb used in the attack was a highly-powerful device packed with nuts and screws.
British officials were outraged when photos appearing to show debris from the Monday night attack on US singer Ariana Grande gig appeared in the New York Times.
It came after the name of bomber Salman Abedi was leaked to the US media 24 hours after the attack, which killed 22 – including children – and injured 64.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to raise concerns with US President Donald Trump at a NATO meeting in Brussels later.
The rucksack bomb was so complex that it could only have been made by an expert, leaked crime scene pictures suggested. It also emerged that an Al Qaeda bomb-maker lived on the same street as Abedi, The Telegraph reported.
Photographs of bomb remnants found at the Manchester Arena showed a trigger switch with a tiny circuit board soldered into the end, which experts said could point to a remote-control or timer built into the bomb to ensure an accomplice could detonate it if Abedi lost his nerve.
Investigators believed the bomb, packed with bolts and screws, was contained in a light-weight metal case carried in a black Karrimor rucksack with a blue lining.
They also found the remains of a specialist 12 volt battery that is more powerful than high street brands of battery used in previous attacks.
Among the details leaked to the Times was a diagram of where the dead were found. Abedi’s upper torso was found some distance away from where the bomb went off, suggesting it was thrown forwards when the bomb went off on his back.
The NYT was also briefed that the trigger device, which appeared to be housed in a brass casing, had been held in Abedi’s left hand.
A tiny circuit board and a red wire poking from one end of it could have been part of a remote control or timer system, and suggested a far higher level of sophistication than the simple thumb switches and light bulbs used in the 7/7 attacks.
Al Qaeda bomb-maker Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who fled to Libya lived in the same street as Abedi, and the security services were probing possible links between the two, the Telegraph reported.
Al-Baset Azzouz was identified as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists by US authorities after setting up a training camp in Libya.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd earlier said she was “irritated” by the disclosure of Abedi’s identity against the UK’s wishes and had warned Washington “it should not happen again”.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs council (UK) said the publication of the images could undermine their investigation.
A Whitehall official described the second US leak as “on another level”, and said it had caused “disbelief and astonishment” across the British government.