With the death toll rising to 22, the Manchester Arena bombing has been the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005.
Yes, terror attack. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The death count has the possibility of going even higher with 59 people being hospitalized, some with life-threatening injuries.
Police were working on following leads and poring over the surveillance footage to determine how the bombing occurred and who was responsible. The main assailant was a suicide bomber.
The police announced they have arrested a 23-year-old man in Chorlton-cum-Hardy neighborhood. A few hours later, police set off a controlled explosion and raided a house in Elsmore Road, about 3.5 miles south of the arena.
A neighbor, Lina Ahmed, said that a young man lived with his parents and younger siblings at the house that was raided. “They didn’t really speak to anyone,” she said. “They were nice people if you walked past.”
Residents were stunned by the police operations. “We’ve been watching this kind of attack happen in Paris,” said a neighbor, Thomas Coull, 17. “We didn’t expect it to happen on our doorstep, literally.”
He was with a friend, Bilal Butt, also 17, who said: “It’s a shock. You see it in other places and then suddenly it hits you in your own neighborhood.”
The British government did not make any immediate comment on the claim by the Islamic State, which said on the social messaging app Telegram that, “One of the soldiers of the caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the crusaders in the city of Manchester.” The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militants’ communications, also provided a translation of the claim. The Islamic State statement did not identify the bomber.
— Joe Gregory (@JoeAaronGregory) May 22, 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May issued a televised statement:
“We now know that a single terrorist detonated his improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue, deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately.
“The explosion coincided with the conclusion of a pop concert, which was attended by many young families and groups of children.
“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice — deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
The terrorist attack was the worst in the history of Manchester and northern England, and the worst in Britain since 2005, when 52 people died, along with four assailants, in coordinated attacks on London’s transit system.
“After our darkest of nights, Manchester is today waking up to the most difficult of dawns,” Mayor Andy Burnham told reporters. “These were children, young people, and their families. Those responsible chose to terrorize and kill. This was an evil act.”
Security experts suggested that the use of a suicide bomb in Manchester, if true, would display a level of sophistication that implied collaborators — and the possibility that other bombs had been fabricated at the same time.
Michael S. Smith II is a terrorism analyst who specializes in the Islamic State’s influence efforts. He stated that, “This type of target was absolutely foreseeable, as Islamic State has increasingly been highlighting in its propaganda that scores of children have been killed in coalition and Russian strikes targeting Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria.”
He added that the content is “intended to stimulate thinking about executing retributive attacks among Islamic State supporters here in the West.”
Chris Phillips is a former leader of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in Britain and he shared his opinions with the BBC. “It has involved a lot of planning — it’s a bit of a step up. This is a much more professional-style attack.”
Richard Barrett, former director of global counterterrorism operations at MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, said that the security and police forces were stretched, having to monitor more than 400 people returning from jihad in the Middle East, and 600 or so others who had tried to go but had been stopped. “So that’s already 1,000 people,” without taking into account other sympathizers in Britain, he said.
“It’s not that complicated to build a bomb,” Mr. Barrett told the BBC. “I’m not sure it requires someone to go to Syria to get that expertise.”
EXPLOSION AT MANCHESTER ARENA AND EVERYONE RAN OUT SO SCARY? pic.twitter.com/pJbUBoELtE
— ♡♡ (@hannawwh) May 22, 2017