At least 22 people are dead and around 59 have been injured, including children, after an explosion at a concert arena in Manchester that is being treated as a terrorist attack.
Police believe the attack was carried out by a single suicide bomber, who also died. However, the police have also announced the arrest of a 23-year-old man in south Manchester in connection with the attack.
With regards to last night’s incident at the Manchester arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester.
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 23, 2017
Speaking before the announcement, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We have been treating this as a terrorist attack.” The attacker was named by newspapers late on Tuesday as Salman Abedi, a British man of Libyan heritage. The source for this is US, rather than British, intelligence.
The victims were young concert-goers and their parents. Victims include the 18-year-old Georgina Callander and the eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, earlier said that the country’s “thoughts and prayers” were with those affected by the attack.
She said: “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, 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.”
The blast occurred as an Ariana Grande concert was finishing at Manchester Arena on Monday night. According to May, the terrorist deliberately detonated his device as fans were leaving “to cause maximum carnage”.
May said the country will struggle to understand the “warped and twisted mind” that saw “a room packed with young children” as “an opportunity for carnage”.
“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent and defenceless children,” she said. “Young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
She thanked the emergency services “on behalf of the country” for their “utmost professionalism” and urged anyone with information about the attack to contact the police.
“The general election campaign has been suspended. I will chair another meeting of Cobra later today.”
Ending her statement, she said:
“At terrible moments like these it is customary for leaders politicians and others to condemn the perpetrators and declare that the terrorists will not win. But the fact we have been here before and we need to say this again does not make it any less true. For as so often while we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best.
“The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people together and in the days ahead those must be the things we remember. The images we hold in our minds should not be those of senseless slaughter, but the ordinary men and women who put their own concerns for safety aside and rushed to help.”
Emergency services, including hundreds of police, worked overnight to recover the victims and secure the area, while families desperately searched for their children. The dead included children and teenagers. The injured are being treated at eight hospitals in Greater Manchester, and some are in a critical condition.
The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, although this has not been independently verified, and the organisation has been slow to respond.
Theresa May chaired a Cobra meeting on Tuesday morning and another in the afternoon. She said police believed they knew the identity of the perpretator, and were working “at speed” to establish whether he was part of a larger network. She met Manchester’s chief constable, the Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and members of the emergency services. A flat in a Manchester suburb has been raided.
There were reports overnight of strangers offering their homes to concert-goers, and taxis taking people away from the scene of the explosion for free.
As the news broke, Grande, who had left the stage moments before the attack, tweeted that she felt “broken”.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
Manchester’s newly elected metro mayor, Andy Burnham, called the explosion “an evil act” and said: “After our darkest of nights Manchester is waking up to the most difficult of dawns.”
He thanked the emergency services and the people of Manchester, and said “it will be business as usual as far as possible in our great city”.
Extra police, including armed officers, have been deployed on the city’s streets, and the area around the Manchester Arena remains cordoned off. Victoria Station is closed.
The main political parties suspended campaigning for the general election for at least 24 hours after the news broke. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night. My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.
“Today the whole country will grieve for the people who have lost their lives.”
Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 22, 2017
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all those who have been affected by this barbaric attack in Manchester.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, a city that suffered a terrorist attack two months ago, tweeted that: “London stands with Manchester.”
The attack happened while many Brits were sleeping, but international leaders have already been offering their condolences. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, tweeted: “Canadians are shocked by the news of the horrific attack in Manchester.” The Australian parliament paused for a minute’s silence in remembrance of the dead.
Canadians are shocked by the news of the horrific attack in Manchester tonight. Please keep the victims & their families in your thoughts.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 23, 2017