Ariana Grande concert explosion: Suspect identified, one arrested, three victims revealed
The suspected suicide bomber behind attack on a concert venue in Manchester has been identified as Salman Abedi, US officials told Reuters.
Two of the officials who have been in contact with British authorities said the suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi or Salman Ramadan Abedi and was believed to have travelled to Manchester from London by train. A third US government source said the bomber had been identified as Salman Abedi.
Manchester police said a suicide bomber used an improvised explosive device and died during the attack following an Ariana Grande concert. They believe he acted alone.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out with an explosive device planted at the concert, according to a statement the group posted on Telegram.
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"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 statement said.
Children were among the dead, including an eight-year-old girl, after a fatal explosion killed 22 people in a terror attack.
The bombing happened near an entrance to the Manchester Arena just minutes after Grande's concert ended with the song Dangerous Woman and the American singer left the stage, witnesses said.
There was mass panic inside the 21,000-seat auditorium after the explosion about 10.30pm (9.30am Tuesday NZ Time) as concertgoers rushed to the exits.
The explosion appeared intended to inflict the maximum possible damage on young concertgoers - many of them in their early teens.
Police cars, bomb-disposal units and 60 ambulances raced to the scene as the scale of the carnage became clear.
In addition to the 22 people have so far been confirmed dead, 59 casualties have been taken to hospital, according to Manchester's ambulance service.
"We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise," said Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police.
A witness told the BBC they saw 20 to 30 people lying on the ground in the arena.
THE FIRST VICTIMS
Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, 18-year-old Georgina Callander and 28-year-old John Atkinson were the first three of the 22 fatalities to be confirmed.
Callander's friends said she was one of the first ones to be rushed to the hospital after the attack, according to reports. She was the first to be named in the media.
A close friend revealed that Callander passed away with her mother at her bedside in the hospital.
Roussos was attending the concert with her mother and sister, who are both receiving treatment in separate hospitals for injuries suffered in the blast.
Chris Upton, headteacher at Tarleton Community Primary School which Roussos attended, described her as a "beautiful little girl" with a "creative flair" who was "loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly."
Atkinson was believed to be leaving the venue when the blast hit. The young man from Radcliffe, north of Manchester, was described as an "amazing young man" and "a beautiful soul" in tributes from friends and family.
Earlier in the day, Greater Manchester Police said they had arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the suicide bombing.
Police said the man was arrested in south Manchester, a day after the explosion killed 22 people and injured 59, many of them teenagers. They did not provide details.
Police also said officials arrested a man at the Arndale shopping centre in central Manchester - but that the arrest is not believed to be connected to the attack.
The Guardian reported police officers in riot gear with guns have just raided a flat on the Whalley Range/Chorlton border.
More than a dozen officers in unmarked cars and police vans raided a flat at Royston Court in Carlton Road at around 12.20pm (11.20pm NZT).
The public were shouted at to keep out of the way as the officers made their way to the flat on the tree-lined street. A very large police presence remained in the area.
The singer was not injured and has sent her condolences in a tweet saying: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."
It seems Ariana Grande's tour has been postponed indefinitely due to the bombing. She was set to play in New Zealand in September, but the promoters of her shows here have not yet made an announcement.
broken.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
Grande, a 23-year-old singer with a big voice, started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series. She is the second-most-followed person on Instagram, with 106 million followers.
IT WAS A SUICIDE BOMBING
Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said the attacker died in the explosion.
He said the man was "carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated causing this atrocity".
Manchester police are now probing if the attacker was part of a wider network.
Hopkins said it was "the most horrific incident we have ever faced"
The Manchester Arena has released a statement saying the explosion happened outside of the stadium in a public space, while police told the BBC the explosion was in the foyer of the arena rather than the main auditorium.
The UK bomb squad carried out a precautionary controlled explosion on a piece of abandoned clothing.
Train lines out of Manchester's Victoria Station were blocked. British Transport Police said they will increase security around key railway stations across the United Kingdom.
Holiday Inn hotel near Manchester Arena reportedly took in "50+ children" who were unaccompanied and stranded and locals offered to take in those who needed it.
US President Trump, currently in the Middle East, said perpetrators of the Manchester attack are 'evil losers'.
A father named Andy described seeing "carnage everywhere" in the wake of the explosion. People, including children and disabled victims, were lying on the floor, he told the BBC.
Andy said he was blown about 10 metres by a blast that shook the building as he waited to collect his wife and daughter at the end of the concert by the artist.
He said he later saw panicking families trying to find loved ones.
He told BBC News: "It's shocking what happened. Just carnage everywhere. There was a good 20 to 30 of them [victims]. Some were young kids, some were disabled people."
Hayley Lunt took her 10-year-old daughter Abigail to the show. It was her first concert. The blast, "what sounded like gunshots: 'bang, bang,"' came just as Grande left the stage: "It was almost like they waited for her to go," the mother said.
"Then we just heard lots of people screaming, and we just ran," she said. "What should have been a superb evening is now just horrible."
Concert-goer Bethany Keeling said: "There was debris everywhere."
"Everyone ran back up the stairs and we eventually got out and they told us to run. We ran out of the arena and there were bodies on the floor," said the 21-year-old from Keighley in northern England. "It was terrifying."
Shaun Hunter was with his daughters, Eva, 10, and Ruby, 12, who were wearing kitten ears like the star of the show, when the house lights went on. He called the rush of concert-goers after the explosion "a stampede."
"I saw one bloke carrying his daughter. She was bleeding," Hunter told The Times of London.
Andy Holey, who went to the arena to pick up his family, said the blast threw him around 10m through a set of doors.
"When I got up and looked around there was about 30 people scattered everywhere, some of them looked dead, they might have been unconscious but there was a lot of fatalities," he said.
Elena Semino and her husband were waiting by the arena ticket office for her daughter when the explosion went off.
"My husband and I were standing against the wall, luckily, and all of a sudden there was this thing," she told The Guardian. "I can't even describe it. There was this heat on my neck and when I looked up there were bodies everywhere."
Despite wounds to her neck and a leg, Semino dashed into the auditorium in search of her daughter while her husband, who had only a minor injury, stayed behind to help an injured woman. She found her daughter Natalie, 17, and her friends safe.
INFORMATION FOR NEW ZEALANDERS IN MANCHESTER
Prime Minister Bill English says there is no indication that any Kiwis are involved in the attack.
An emergency number has been set up for those worried about loved ones. It's 0161 856 9400. If you are in New Zealand you will want to add 0044 before dialling that.
New Zealanders in the area are being urged to make contact with home.
BRITISH PM MAY: 'AN APPALLING TERRORIST ATTACK'
British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and families of those affected.
"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack," she said early on Tuesday.
"All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."
May is due to chair a meeting of the government's COBRA emergency committee later Tuesday. She and other candidates suspended campaigning for Britain's June 8 election after the blast.
Queen Elizabeth II has sent her sympathy to the victims of the attack, condemning an "act of barbarity".
"I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured," the Queen said in a statement.
"I want to thank all the members of the emergency services, who have responded with such professionalism and care," she said.
"And I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion, to this act of barbarity."
'WE WERE ALL TRYING TO FLEE'
Concertgoer Majid Khan, 22, told Sky News: "we were all exiting the venue when around 10.40-10.45pm-ish a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena."
"It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit Trinity Way and that was blocked so everyone was just running to any exit they could find as quickly as they could.
"Everyone was in a huge state of panic, calling each other as some had gone to the toilet whilst this had gone off, so it was just extremely disturbing for everyone there."
Hannah Dane told the Guardian there was "quite a loud explosion heard from inside the Manchester arena and it shook, then everyone screamed and tried to get out".
"As we got outside, lots of police came racing towards the area and the whole of the Victoria train station was surrounded by police."
'YOU COULD FEEL IT IN YOUR CHEST'
Suzy Mitchell, 26, whose flat is opposite the venue, said the bang rocked the entire neighbourhood.
Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters: "We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,"
"It was a huge explosion - you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out of the area."
MUSIC VENUES AS TERROR TARGETS
Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before, AP reported. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by Isis 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 revellers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.
Manchester, 260km northwest of London, was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that levelled a swath of the city centre. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.
Manchester Arena is the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and has a capacity for 21,000 people. It is a popular concert and sporting venue.