Hundreds of mourners have paid an emotional tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attack, exactly a week after Salman Abedi wrought death and destruction on the city.
People of all ages stood alongside each other in quiet contemplation shortly after 10.30pm at St Ann’s Square, the site that has become the unofficial memorial site for the 22 people killed and more than 100 injured in last Monday’s Manchester Arena blast.
The vigil, illuminated by the gentle light from hundreds of tea candles, was a moment of quiet reflection for a city united in grief.
It came as anti-terror police appealed for information about a blue suitcase Abedi was carrying on the day of the deadly Manchester bombing.
Irina Tomic, 17, from Warrington, said: “A few of my friends went to this concert and I’ve always liked to go to gigs, so this tragedy really hit home to me.
“I wanted to come here to pay my respects.
“It feels like everyone has come together. I’m not too bothered about the rain, I’m mostly thinking about those who have passed away.
“I knew four people who went to the gig, there was a lot of anticipation – for that kind of thing to happen was really awful.”
Manchester resident Julio Villa-Garcia, 35, originally from Spain, said: “I’m here in solidarity – any of us could have been involved in [the tragedy].
“It’s very impressive to see people offering their places, their hotels, free taxi rides back home.
“That’s the beauty of this – if anything good comes out of it, it’s precisely that.
“We cannot surrender and give in to terrorism. We have to keep living. We cannot give up.”
On Monday Greater Manchester Police released an image of the suicide bomber with the hip-high case in the city centre on May 22.
Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit said: “Did you see Abedi with this suitcase between the 18 and 22 May 2017? Where did you see him with it during that time?
“You may have seen him in the Wilmslow Road area or Manchester city centre with the suitcase or know where the suitcase has been.
“If you have any details about the suitcase we need you to get in touch and let us know.
“We believe Abedi was in possession of this case in the days before the attack at Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May.
“I want to stress that this is a different item than the one he used in the attack.
“This image was taken from CCTV in the city centre on 22 May.”
Mr Jackson added: “The public should not approach the case if they see it but contact police immediately on 999.”
Officers executed a warrant at an address in Rusholme and the search is continuing, GMP said on Monday evening.
Police activity also centred around a tip beside the M66 motorway, between Bury and Heywood and officers stood on guard at the entrance to the Viridor site and also at a public footpath around it.
One worker in a fluorescent orange coat could be seen beside a man in a white boiler suit inspecting waste close to a large digger which was sifting through material.
Viridor confirmed its Pilsworth site was being searched, and the company was assisting police.
Early morning raids were carried out at a house in Manchester, along with searches carried out in Chester and Shoreham-by-Sea, on the south coast of England.
A 23-year-old was held in the small seaside town on suspicion of terror offences in the early hours of Monday morning, GMP said.
CCTV films Manchester bomber shopping hours before the attack
As the police operation continued, more questions were being raised about possible security and intelligence blunders surrounding what was known about Abedi.
With the massive operation to dismantle his terror network showing little sign of slowing, 14 men were being held in custody in connection with the attack.
Police have been working round the clock since Abedi killed 22 people, seven of them children, and injured more than 100 last Monday night in the worst terrorist atrocity since the July 7 bombings in 2005.
A total of 16 arrests have been made in connection with the attack, two people have since been released.
The suspect held in Shoreham was arrested after police entered a flat above a parade of shops in Brunswick Road in the town centre.
It is not the first time the area has been linked to terror.
The Deghayes family, of Saltdean, have lost three sons killed fighting in Syria, while a fourth son has also travelled to the country to fight the Assad regime.
Relation Omar Deghayes was held by the United States as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay detention camp between 2002 and 2007 after he was arrested in Pakistan.
In Manchester, police raided the home of another Libyan family in the Whalley Range area of south Manchester on Monday morning, with searches of the property continuing.
It has been reported that MI5 has launched two urgent inquiries into whether it missed the danger posed by Abedi, amid allegations it was warned of his deadly intent.
The domestic security service is said to be investigating whether any glaring errors were made in the handling of intelligence before the attack.
Spy chiefs are believed to have held an emergency review in the days after the atrocity, while a separate in-depth inquiry is being conducted to look at the decision making surrounding his case before the massacre, the Guardian reported.
A senior Whitehall source has previously said Abedi was a “former subject of interest” to the security services whose risk “remained subject to review”.
In the wake of the attack, it emerged British counter-terror authorities were grappling with 500 investigations into 3,000 individuals.
Security sources later confirmed that a further 20,000 individuals were said to have been considered “subjects of interest” in the past, meaning as many as 23,000 people have appeared on the radar of counter-terror agencies, although the period the figures cover is unclear.