More than 20 dead after explosion during Ariana Grande concert in Manchester
Police reported 22 people had been killed and 59 injured Monday after a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.
The Islamic State group claimed one of its “soldiers” was responsible, but United States intelligence said it hadn’t verified that assertion.
The Greater Manchester Police said the explosions were reported about 2:35 p.m. Arizona time at Manchester Arena. Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said during a press conference that a suicide bomber — later identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi — carried out the attack by detonating an IED.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” Hopkins said.
Police said they have arrested another man.
Hopkins also said people should be vigilant of their surroundings, but should also try to live life as normal as possible.
“Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create fear and distrust in our communities,” he said. “We have a long history in greater Manchester of communities standing together in difficult times.”
Medical officials said an 8-year-old girl was among the dead and 12 children under the age of 16 were among the injured.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the concert bombing “a callous terrorist attack.”
“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage,” she said early Tuesday.
Officials with the Manchester Arena tweeted Monday that the incident “took place outside the venue in a public space,” but police have not confirmed this detail.
During a press conference given early Tuesday morning local time, Hopkins provided an emergency number for people to reach out to their loved ones.
Police advised the public to avoid the area around the Manchester Arena, and the train station near the arena, Victoria Station, was evacuated and all trains canceled. Hopkins said the department planned to have an increased presence in the city on Tuesday.
Joseph Carozza, a representative from Grande’s U.S. record label, said the singer was OK and they were investigating what happened.
In a short statement released Monday night Arizona time, Grande had few words to say about the incident.
Grande’s manager Scooter Braun also tweeted his condolences just after 7:30 p.m. Arizona time.
Jade Baynes, 18, told the Guardian she heard loud bangs inside the arena shortly after Grande finished her show.
“There were just a loud bang and a flash and everyone tried to scramble out. An alarm came on telling everyone to stay calm but leave as quickly as possible,” she told the outlet.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately known. Robert Tempkin told the BBC that he heard multiple stories as he quickly left the arena.
“Some people were screaming they’d seen blood but other people were saying it was balloons busting or a speaker had been popped,” he said.
A dashboard camera appeared to record at least one loud explosion and flash of light inside the facility, which is located just north of the heart of the city.
Videos purportedly taken inside the arena showed fans screaming and trying to exit as quickly as possible.
Other social media feeds showed a large number of emergency response vehicles headed to the area.
A bomb disposal team was on the scene.
The U.S. embassy said it was aware of the situation and advised citizens to “heed guidance from local authorities and maintain security awareness.”
People in Manchester took to social media to offer rooms or rides to people who may have been left stranded by the incident.
The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, also tweeted his condolences.
Department of Homeland Safety spokesman David Lapan told Politico the U.S. is monitoring the situation and that the public should not be surprised to see increased security at similar events.
“At this time we have no information to indicate a specific threat involving music venues in the United States,” Lapan said. “However, the public may experience increased security around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
President Donald Trump said his country stands alongside the British people.
“As president of the United States, on behalf of the people of the United States, I would like to begin by offering my prayers to the people of Manchester and the United Kingdom,” he said during a press conference in Palestine. “I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and, to the many killed and the to the families — so many families — of the victims.”
“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life,” he said.
The Dangerous Woman Tour is the third concert tour by Grande to support her third studio album, “Dangerous Woman.” The tour began on Feb. 3, 2017, in Phoenix at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
From Manchester the tour is to move through Europe, including Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France, through the summer with stops in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico and on to Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia and more.
Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by the extremist Islamic State group at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal in November 2015.
In Turkey, 39 people died when a gunman attacked New Year’s revelers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Online, supporters of Islamic State, which holds territory in Iraq’s Mosul and around its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, celebrated the incident. One wrote: “May they taste what the weak people in Mosul and (Raqqa) experience from their being bombed and burned,” according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.
Manchester was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that leveled a swath of the city center. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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