At least 22 persons, including children, were killed when a suicide bomb blast tore through a crowd of fans leaving an Ariana Grande pop concert in the Manchester Arena, shocking the country and underlining the continued threat to European security. A 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack, police said on Tuesday.
At least 59 people were also injured in the blast set off when the attacker detonated an improvised explosive device, shortly after singer Ariana Grande had finished her performance on Monday night. The lone male attacker died in the blast, Greater Manchester Police said.
Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said investigators believed the attack was conducted by one man who died at the scene. Detectives are working to establish if he “was acting alone or as part of a network”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” that came two months after the Westminster attack. All campaigning for the June 8 general election has been suspended.
The explosion took place around 10.35 p.m. in the foyer of the Arena building as 20,000 fans were streaming towards the exit doors. It is the worst terror attack in Britain since 56 people were killed in the July 2005 London bombings.
May chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee and said police have identified the attacker but it was too early in the investigation to release his name.
“This was among the worst terror incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she said. May is expected to travel to Manchester later.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed in a tweet that they have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester in connection with the attack.
Grande, who had just finished the first of three scheduled UK performances when the blast hit, was not injured, a team member confirmed.
She tweeted several hours later: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and former Lord Mayor Afzal Khan were among the senior politicians who condemned the attack.
Rudd said the attack was “barbaric, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable”.
At least 60 ambulances attended the scene of the blast, as over 240 distress calls were received. The Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital was blocked off to all but essential staff.
No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but supporters of the Islamic State (IS) terror group were seen celebrating the blast on social media, the media reported.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, condemning the attack, said “our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured”.
US President Donald Trump called those behind the Manchester suicide bombing and other similar attacks “evil losers in life”.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, condemning the attack, said she would convene the Scottish government’s Resilience Committee on Tuesday morning to “consider any implications for Scotland”.
Hotels and homes in Manchester opened their doors to people who could not get to their homes due to an area lockdown. Taxis and local people offered free rides to those affected.
Social media posts from the scene showed panicked concert-goers running down the arena’s stairs in an attempt to get away.
Eyewitnesses described seeing metal nuts and bolts among the debris, and spoke about the fear and confusion that gripped the concert-goers.
Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter, said: “An explosion went off and it threw me about 30ft from one set of doors to the other set of doors.
“When I got up I saw bodies lying on the ground. My first thought was to go into the arena to try to find my family.”
Emma Johnson said she and her husband were at the arena to pick up her children, aged 15 and 17.
“We stood at the top of the stairs and the glass exploded… The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere,” she told BBC Radio Manchester.
Universal Music Group, the parent company of Grande’s Republic Records label, posted on Facebook: “We are deeply saddened… Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy.”
Musicians such as Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and others offered supportive tweets.
The Manchester Victoria train station, located close to the Arena, was shut down on Tuesday, UK National Rail announced.
Leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese said the city was “proud, strong and we will not allow terrorists who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims”.