Police and other emergency services treat casualties near the Manchester Arena © Joel Goodman/LNP
Terror bombing kills 22 in Manchester Arena Children caught in fatal blast after Ariana Grande concert in northern UK city Armed police walk past floral tributes to the victims of the terrorist attack after concertgoers left an Ariana Grande performance © Getty Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on Whatsapp (opens new window) Save AN HOUR AGO by: Andy Bounds in Manchester A man with an “improvised” bomb killed at least 22 people and injured 59 outside a concert arena filled with teenagers in central Manchester on Monday night, in the worst terrorism incident in the UK since 2005. Sample the FT’s top stories for a week You select the topic, we deliver the news.
Police said the bomber, who died in the explosion, detonated the device around 10.30pm, shortly after the concert by US pop star Ariana Grande. Isis claimed responsibility for the attack at Manchester Arena, although the jihadi group has in the past taken credit for terror incidents that are later found to be unconnected. Theresa May, the prime minister, said security services believed they knew the identity of the bomber behind the “callous terrorist attack”, which was “among the worst terrorism we have experienced in the United Kingdom”. “All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice,” she said outside Downing Street.
“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room of young people as an opportunity for carnage.” Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said children were among the dead and authorities were working to determine whether the attacker “was acting alone or was part of a network”. The police later said a 23-year-old man had been arrested in south Manchester in connection with the attack. British political leaders, who were in the middle of a general election race, halted all campaigning. Live coverage Manchester terror attack Read the latest developments Two people killed in the attack have been named — eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos from Leyland in Lancashire and Georgina Callander, a student at Runshaw College in the same town. Chris Upton, headteacher at Tarleton Community Primary School, where the eight-year-old was a pupil, told the Guardian: “Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word.”
Twelve children under the age of 16 were among the 59 casualties taken to hospital after the attack, according to ambulance services. SMG Europe, a venue management company which runs the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena, said the explosion happened in a public space outside the venue just after the concert ended. Witnesses described a scene of panic and mayhem as hundreds of concertgoers fled the packed arena after the explosion. Some said they had seen blood spattered on gangways with shrapnel and broken glass littering the area. “Everyone had started leaving and there was a massive explosion. Everyone started screaming. There was so much panic,” one witness named Rachel told BBC Radio Manchester. “You couldn’t get out because there were so many crowds of people.”
Another witness named Emma told the station that she, her husband and two teenaged daughters managed to escape through foyers strewn with shattered glass. “There were bodies everywhere. I really don’t know how we survived it.” After the blast, friends and family looking for loved ones in the panic and chaos were posting portraits on social media in search of information. Hotels in the immediate area took in stranded teenagers and taxis offered free rides from the venue to transport hubs. Eight Manchester-area hospitals were treating the wounded. The arena said the device went off just outside the core part of the venue “in a public space”, and witness reports said the bomb detonated among crowds as they were leaving the concert. British Transport Police said the explosion was in the foyer near the ticket office. Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It is hard to believe what has happened here in the last few hours and to put into words the shock, hurt and anger that we feel today. These were children, young people and their families who those responsible chose to terrorise and kill. This was an evil act.”
The attack is the most serious terrorism incident in the UK since the Islamist suicide bombings on London Underground trains and a bus in 2005, which killed 52 people. The bombing of a music concert crowd recalled the Paris attacks of November 2015 in which 130 died, many of them slaughtered by three Islamist gunmen at the Bataclan concert hall. Ms Grande tweeted after the attack: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
Greater Manchester Police, the biggest city force in the UK outside London, asked people to stay clear of the area. Hospitals were turning away non-emergency cases. “Please avoid the area as first responders work tirelessly at the scene,” a statement said. Many city centre streets were cordoned off and police on the ground had helicopter support.
Donald Trump, US president, condemned the attack, saying the perpetrators were “evil losers in life”. “Terrorists must be driven from our society forever. This wicked ideology must be obliterated. Completely obliterated. Innocent life must be protected,” he said on a visit to Bethlehem for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. Manchester remained on edge throughout the evening. Around 1.30am, bomb disposal officers carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device near the arena in a small park by the city’s cathedral. It turned out to be abandoned clothing, police said. Britain’s threat level from terrorism is at “severe”, which means an attack is thought to be likely. In 1996, an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in Manchester City centre. Because a warning was given, only one person was injured but several streets were devastated. Pat Karney, a city councillor, said of the casualties: “All of Manchester is thinking of them and their families.” In a message on Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with all those affected and our brilliant emergency services.” Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, condemned the bombing: “This is a shocking and horrific attack targeting children and young people who were simply enjoying a concert.”
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