ANKARA (Reuters) - The suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Manchester passed through Istanbul on his way to Europe but there were no records of him entering Syria during his travels, two Turkish security officials said on Thursday.
The officials told Reuters that Turkey received no prior warning from European countries about the bomber, Salman Abedi, so he was allowed to travel on to Europe.
Abedi blew himself up at a packed hall in Manchester on Monday evening killing 22 people, including young children, who were leaving a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.
Born in Manchester to Libyan parents, Abedi had recently returned from Libya, according to Britain’s interior minister, Amber Rudd.
Describing Abedi’s movements before the attack, one of the Turkish officials said: “There is flight traffic before his arrival to Europe. He travels first to Europe, then to a third country and then to Istanbul and back to Europe.”
He said the “third country” was not Syria.
“He has not spent any time in Turkey (and) he has not had an entry or exit from Syria during his travels, there is no such information in his records,” the official said.
Abedi’s father told Reuters in Libya he had last spoken to his 22-year-old son nearly a week ago by phone, and “everything was normal”. He did not say where his son was at the time.
Sky News, citing German intelligence, said on Thursday Abedi had been in the German city of Duesseldorf four days before the attack. Investigators have said they believe he was part of a wider network of militants.
“There has been no sharing of intelligence about this person in any country in Europe, including Germany, prior to the attack,” the official said.
“There was also no warning that has been received by Turkey in this regard. This is why there were no limitations in his travel to Europe from Istanbul.”
The attack also injured 116 people, of whom 75 were admitted to hospital and 23 remain in a very serious condition, health authorities said on Thursday.
Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by David Dolan and Angus MacSwan