Manchester Arena attack: UK hits out at US 'leaks' over terror inquiry

British counter-terrorism officials have hit out at their US counterparts for apparently leaking intelligence to the American media in connection with the Manchester attack inquiry.

The officials suggested trust had been "breached" and the investigation had been "undermined".

It comes after photographs appearing to show bloodstained fragments from the arena killer's bomb were published in the US media.

The pictures emerged a day after the bomber's name was leaked to the American press against the wishes of British police.

Before the crime scene photos were published, the UK Government had issued a warning to American authorities not to reveal details of the terror investigation.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd had said she was "irritated" by the early release of the bomber's name and said she had made it "very clear" to US counterparts that no further leaks should occur.

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The new images include what could be part of a detonator as well as a 12-volt battery and torn scraps of blue fabric said to be from suspect Salman Abedi's rucksack.

There were also pictures of screws and nuts apparently used as shrapnel, published by the New York Times.

The photos are purported to be from the preliminary investigation into Monday's attack, which killed 22 people and left around 60 others in hospital.

Abedi blew himself up in the Manchester Arena foyer as thousands of concertgoers were streaming out of the venue after a gig by US pop star Ariana Grande .

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Following the apparent leaking of the bomb fragment pictures, a national counter-terrorism policing spokesperson said: "We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world.

"These relationships enable us to collaborate and share privileged and sensitive information that allows us to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad.

"When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families.

"This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation."

Of the crime scene images being published in the US, a Whitehall source told the Press Association: "We are furious. This is completely unacceptable.

"These images leaked from inside the US system will be distressing for victims, their families and the wider public.

"The issue is being raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their US counterparts."

Meanwhile, CCTV images apparently show Abedi moments after he bought the rucksack used in his deadly attack.

One picture appeared to show a sales tag hanging from the backpack.

The images were taken in the Arndale shopping mall in Manchester city centre around 8pm last Friday, three days before the bombing.

A vivid blue flash of the rucksack's inner lining matches crime scene pictures published by the New York Times.