At least 22 dead, 50 injured, in suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena
Injured : Greater Manchester police have confirmed children among the victims of the attack carried out by a man with an explosive device
At least 22 people, including children, have been killed and 59 injured in a suicide bombing at a crowded pop concert in Manchester, the most deadly attack in Britain in a decade.
The horror unfolded at about 10.30pm on Monday at the end of a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande, whose music is popular with children and teenagers.
The attack, which took place in the foyer area of the arena, left hundreds of people fleeing in terror, with young people at the concert separated from their parents in the chaos. It left carnage inside the concert venue, with medics describing treating wounds consistent with shrapnel injury.
One witness said he could see nuts and bolts strewn on the floor of the foyer after the attack, which could suggest a nail bomb was involved.
Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, said: “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
The attack came less than three weeks before Britain’s general election on 8 June . In response, all parties have suspended campaigning.
The PM will chair an emergency meeting of the government’s crisis committee, Cobra, at 9am on Tuesday.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, paid tribute to emergency services, saying: “This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims who have been affected.”
Greater Manchester police have confirmed that they believe the bombing was the responsibility of one man armed with an improvised explosive device. The man is among the dead.
Chief constable Ian Hopkins said: “We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.”
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.”
The investigation into the attack involves the police counter-terrorism network and Britain’s domestic security service, MI5.
The death toll would make it the worst event of its kind in Britain since the 7/7 bombing in 2005, which hit London’s transport network, killing 52 people.
Witnesses in Manchester described how, after the concert had finished, the house lights came up and then a loud bang was heard. Majid Khan, 22, said: “A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.
“It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit.”
Oliver Jones, 17, who attended with his 19-year-old sister, said: “The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run.”
People outside the concert were visibly upset, as a cacophony of sirens were heard and police and ambulance vehicles arrived at the scene.
Erin McDougle, 20, from Newcastle said: “There was a loud bang at the end of the concert. The lights were already on so we knew it wasn’t part of the show. At first we thought it was a bomb. There was a lot of smoke. People started running out. When we got outside the arena there were dozens of police vans and quite a few ambulances.”
A group of young men from Sheffield said they had seen at least five people covered in blood and others being carried out by bouncers. “Ariana Grande had just gone behind the curtain and the lights came up when there was this massive bang and a big cloud of smoke. I saw five people with blood all down them,” said one.
Sophie Tedd, 25, from Darlington, said, “Everyone started screaming and we nearly got trampled on. There was a burning smell.”
A woman with her husband and three young children said there was a loud bang as the concert ended. She said: “I just freaked. Everyone started screaming. We did not see any explosion but it smelled bad, like burning.”
Charlotte Campbell, said she last heard from her 15-year-old daughter Olivia at 8.30pm on Monday, shortly before Grande went on stage and was frantically trying to find her.
“Her dad is actually in Manchester looking for her,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I’ve got friends out looking for her, I’ve got people I don’t even know out looking for her.
“I’ve got people messaging me saying: ‘Look, we’ve got her photo and we’re out looking for her – we’ll get in contact with you if we see her’. I’m just hearing nothing – her phone’s dead.”
The attack happened despite years of warnings and tightening of security, especially around crowded paces. Investigators will want to find out who carried out the attack and for what reason. They will also investigate where the material for the suspected device was bought and how it was designed.
Since the attack on London in 2005, measures have been put in place to restrict the purchase of materials that can be used to make homemade explosives.
The Manchester attack came after weeks of heightened activity and disrupted plots by police and MI5. In March, four people and the attacker died after an attack on Westminster, central London, which targeted the Houses of Parliament.
The terrorist threat level for Britain is at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. Security is expected to be reviewed for major venues in Britain and elsewhere. London mayor Sadiq Khan said there would be more police on the streets of the capital on Tuesday after the “barbaric and sickening attack”.
In the US, the Department of Homeland Security warned of extra security measures: “The public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
World leaders expressed solidarity with the UK in the fight against terrorists. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, offered the British people “all the compassion and care of France which is at their side in mourning, with a particular thought for the victims and their families”. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Monday expressed her “sorrow and horror”.
In a statement just before 3am, Ian Hopkins, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, said the police had received reports of an explosion at 10.33pm at the conclusion of the Ariana Grande concert.
He said: “We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information, we are working closely with national counter-terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners. This is clearly a very concerning time for everyone. We are doing all that we can, working with local and national agencies to support those affected as we gather information about what happened last night.”
Hopkins urged people to remain vigilant and to stay away from the area of the attack so emergency services could continue their work.
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