British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday condemned the “senseless” terrorist atrocity in Manchester and said that the suicide bombing at a concert attended by children showed “appalling sickening cowardice” and was one of the worst the country had suffered.
Speaking on the steps of 10 Downing Street, she said authorities believed there was one culprit in the Islamic State-claimed bombing and thought they knew his identity.
May led a wave of outrage among politicians over the “evil” bombing at Manchester Arena on Monday night, which left at least 22 dead plus the attacker. At least 59 were wounded, with fears of more casualties.
May’s defiant statement came after she chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee at No. 10 this morning.
“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people,” she said.
“But this attack stands out for its appalling , sickening, cowardice – deliberately targeting innocent defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
May, who worked through the night on the security response, told of her disgust at the “warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children… as an opportunity for carnage”.
“At terrible times like this it is customary for leaders, politicians and others to condemn the perpetrators and say that the terrorists will not win,” the Premier said.
“The fact that we have been here before does not make it any less so. While we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best.”
May said thoughts and prayers are with the victims friends and family of those affected by the “appalling” events. “It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester, and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack.”
“An attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation. This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom,” she said.
“And although it is not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way, it is the worst attack the city has experienced and the worst ever to hit the north of England.”
Following the attack, campaigning in the general election has been suspended for the day by all major parties.
Present at the hour-long Cobra meeting were PM May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Health Minister Philip Dunne.
Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham and Security Minister Ben Wallace joined the meeting by video-link from Manchester.
The British Prime Minister was expected to travel to Manchester to meet the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
May said she will chair another Cobra meeting later in the day.
The government’s crisis response committee meetings are held in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms called Cobr and as they most commonly take place in Briefing Room A, hence the meeting is referred as Cobra, The Sun reported.
The Cobra meetings in the past were likened to its more famous American equivalent, The White House Situation Room.
They were first called to oversee the response to the UK miners’ strike of 1972.
Since then high profile events that have resulted in Cobra being called include: The Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, the 9/11 and 7/7 terror attacks, Lee Rigby’s murder, and the Paris and Brussels attacks amongst others.
The most recent meeting was in response to the attack outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on March 22.