At least 22 people were killed and over 50 wounded in an explosion at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, England, on Monday.
British police identified the bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Manchester native with Libyan heritage. Authorities are now trying to determine whether Abedi was part of a larger network of terrorists.
The explosion was reported to police at 10:33 pm, just at the end of the concert held at the Manchester Arena. Children are among the deceased, a police official said.
Before it was known the blast was caused by bomb, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident would be treated as a terror attack, and a member of May’s party told Sky News the PM will suspend campaigning for a national election on June 8 because of the alleged attack.
“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement released after the incident. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
May said she would hold a “crisis response” meeting on Tuesday.
Supporters and sympathizers of the Islamic State militant group celebrated online what they believe was a terror attack, though the group has not formally taken responsibility.
“It seems that bombs of the British airforce [sp] over children of Mosul and Raqqa has just came back to #Manchester,” said one Twitter user, Abdul Haqq, referring to the two ISIS-held cities in Iraq and Syria, respectively, where U.S. and British forces are carrying out airstrikes.
Other users posted banners that read “the beginning is in Brussels and Paris, and in London we form a state,” in reference to prior Islamic State attacks.
Two U.S. officials said early signs point to a suicide bombing, and other officials drew parallels to the coordinated terror attacks by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris in November 2015.
“This does not appear to have been a carefully planned attack involving multiple actors, extensive surveillance of the target or exotic materials,” another U.S. official said.
“That is what is so worrisome about this kind of thing—how simple it is to indiscriminately kill, wound and terrorize innocent people. With our partners, the U.S. has begun the process of combing through the available intelligence to see if anything was missed.”
The bombing at Manchester Arena is the deadliest terrorist incident in the U.K. since the summer of 2005, when four British Muslims carried out suicide bombings that killed 52 on London’s transport system.
Witnesses told Reuters that thousands of panicked people rushed for the exits after the explosion. In the chaos, many people were separated from one another and in some cases children were separated from their parents. Some used social networks to look for their family members.
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” one concert-goer told Reuters.
“It was a huge explosion—you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic.”
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