22, including children, killed as blast hits Ariana Grande concert in Manchester
Police said the attack — deadliest since the 2005 London attacks on UK soil — was carried out by lone suspect who died while detonating the deviceUpdated: May 23, 2017 13:46 IST
At least 22 people, including children, were killed in a suicide attack after an Ariana Grande concert in Britain’s Manchester on Monday.
“We believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man,” Manchester chief constable Ian Hopkins said, according to Reuters.
“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.”
At least 50 were believed to have suffered injuries in the explosion, that police had earlier said was being treated as a terrorist attack.
The blast took place around 10.30pm (3.00 am India time on Saturday) at the foyer of the Manchester Arena, where the concert was attended by thousands, mostly teenagers and children.
The attack is the deadliest assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in a suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Two US intelligence officials Reuters spoke to said the initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast.
“The choice of venue, the timing and the mode of attack all suggest this was terrorism,” Reuters quoted a counter-terrorism official as saying.
“We are working to establish the full details…All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected,” she had said shortly after the attack.
The arena has a capacity for 21,000 people and Monday’s audience included many children.
Shortly after the explosion, the nearby Manchester Victoria station was closed and all trains cancelled. Video footage soon emerged showing the blast in the packed concert and reaction.
Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter who had been at the concert, told BBC: “As I was waiting, 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. When I couldn’t find them, I went outside with the police and fire and looked through some of the bodies to try and find my wife and daughter. I managed to find them eventually and they’re OK”.
A spokesman for Ariana Grande, 23, said the singer was “okay”. “Broken from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words,” Grande tweeted hours after the attack.
The US department of homeland security said it was working with foreign counterparts, and said increased security was being put in public place and at events in the country: “We stand ready to assist our friends and allies in the UK in all ways necessary as they investigate and recover from this incident”.
Monday’s incident was the second major case of a concert being attacked in Europe. In November 2015, the Bataclan Theatre in Paris was attacked by gunmen who also struck at several places in the French capital.
CAMPAIGNING ON HOLD
Major political parties suspended their campaigns for June 8 election after Monday’s blast.
Ruling Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party announced they will halt their events temporarily, as did Prime Minister Theresa May who called an emergency meeting of top security officials in London on Tuesday morning.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, tweeted: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services,” while the newly-elected Labour mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham said: “A terrible night for our great city.”
First Published: May 23, 2017 07:01 IST