MANCHESTER: Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Monday night’s suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl. The attack was carried out with explosives planted at Manchester Arena.
The claim came shortly after a 23-year-old man was arrested in the south of the city, according to Greater Manchester Police. Armed police in riot gear have also raided a flat in the same area of the city. Royston Court, on Carlton Road, was cordoned off at about 12.20pm. It is understood that the man who detonated the bomb lived there.
What we know so far
– At least 22 people, some of them children, killed in the bombing
– Attacker died after detonating “improvised explosive device”
– No reports of Irish among dead or injured
– Worst terrorist attack in the UK since 2005 London bombings
– First victim named as Georgina Callander, an 18-year-old student
Theresa May, the British prime minister, earlier said UK police and security services believe they know the identity of the suicide bomber who killed at least 22 people, including children, and injured 59 more at the pop concert. The attacker is understood to be either British or from Britain, according to the BBC, although this has not been confirmed by official sources.
His home-made bomb, which witnesses said was packed with nuts and bolts, exploded in the foyer of Manchester Arena shortly after 10.30pm on Monday, as 21,000 fans were leaving the venue. Manchester’s chief constable, Ian Hopkins, said the man was acting alone and was “carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity”.
The first victim to be named was Georgina Callander, an 18-year-old student in the second year of a health and social-care course at Runshaw College, in Lancashire. “Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Georgina’s family, friends, and all of those affected by this loss”, the college said.
The second victim has been named as eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, who was at the concert with her mother, Lisa Roussos, and Saffie’s sister, Ashlee Bromwich, who were later found injured in separate hospitals.
Chris Upton, headteacher of Tarleton Community Primary School, in Preston, where she was a pupil, said: “Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone, and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly.”
The news of her death had come as a tremendous shock, he added. “The thought that anyone could go out to a concert and not come home is heartbreaking.”
Twelve seriously injured children were taken to hospital after the attack.
Witnesses said that Monday night’s blast prompted a stampede as the concert ended at Europe’s largest indoor arena. “We ran, and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside, and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs . . . It was just chaos,” said Sebastian Diaz, a 19-year-old fan. “It was literally just a minute after it ended. The lights came on, and the bomb went off.”
Hundreds of parents, relatives and friends are searching for loved ones. Anyone in Ireland with concerns for family and friends can contact the consular division of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on 01-4082000. In the UK an emergency helpline, 00-161-8569400, has been set up.