Manchester suicide attacker ‘was known to security services but not thought to pose immediate threat’
The suicide bomber who killed 22 people, including children, at an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester1 was known to security services but they did not believe he posed an immediate threat, sources said today. About 59 people were injured when the terrorist detonated an improvised explosive device in a foyer packed with fans and families at the Manchester Arena last night. Police said the atrocity was carried out by a lone male bomber, who died at the scene . He is not included in the death toll.
In Downing Street, after chairing a Cobra emergency committee, the Prime Minister said: This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives. General election campaigning has been suspended . Mrs May said police knew the identity of the attacker and were working to establish if he was acting alone or as part of a wider group. It is thought he had been known to the security services but sources said he was not thought to be an immediate threat.
The Prime Minister vowed to defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence , saying: 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. Greater Manchester Police today said it had arrested a man, 23, in the south of the city in connection with the attack. Chief constable Ian Hopkins said: This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see.
The identity of one victim emerged today as friends paid tribute to Georgina Callander, 18, from Tarleton in Lancashire3 . Her mother confirmed her death to them. Shelby Wharton, 17, told the Standard that Miss Callander was kind and loving , adding: We were all praying for her to be found safely.
“Then we were told she had passed away . She was always very open, would talk to everyone . She was so nice .
It does not feel real . I just pray for her family.
Georgina pictured with Ariana Grande two years ago (Instagram)
Miss Callander, an Ariana Grande superfan , met the American singer in 2015 and had her picture taken with her . Posting the image online at the time she told friends: I can t believe this happened. She had tweeted Grande, 23, on Sunday, writing: So excited to see you tomorrow . She is said to have died in hospital with her mother at her bedside.
Georgina Callander was the first victim confirmed to have died in the attack
A relative told the Standard: The family is very devastated at the moment. In London, police deployed extra armed and unarmed officers on the streets. The attack comes two months after the Westminster atrocity and is the worst since the 7/7 bombings in the capital in 2005, in which 52 people were killed and more than 700 hurt.
The horrific aftermath of the attack in Manchester (PA)
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said: We put extra police officers on duty as Londoners started their journeys into work.
This will continue for as long as it is needed, and the mix of armed and unarmed officers are there to reassure.
“Looking ahead to the weekend a normal, busy and vibrant weekend in our city we are working with all those planning events to make sure we are doing all we can. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Met was reviewing security arrangements in the capital . He added: Manchester and the rest of Britain will never be cowed by terrorism . Those who want to destroy our way of life and divide us will never succeed. A police officer lays flowers at the scene (PA)
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but supporters of Islamic State celebrated the bombing on social media.
Police were called to reports of an explosion at the 21,000-capacity arena at 10.33pm, moments after Grande, who was unharmed, finished her concert. Chilling: the moment fans hear a huge explosion ring out through the arena (Twitter)
Victims described hearing a bang before being thrown by the blast, which scattered nuts and bolts across the floor. Thousands of young people stampeded for the exits of the sold-out stadium in scenes caught on mobile phone cameras .
Some of those injured are thought to have been hurt in the rush. Witnesses said the scene was like a war zone , with bodies strewn across the foyer . Gary Walker, from Leeds, was with his wife in the foyer waiting to pick up his two daughters. A girl leaps down to flee the arena
He told the BBC Radio 5 Live: I was waiting for the kids to come out . We heard the last song, and quite a few people were flooding out and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke.
I felt a bit of pain in my foot and my leg .
My wife said, I need to lie down . I lay her down, she d got a stomach wound and possibly a broken leg. Police and concert-goers after last night’s attack (PA)
I was about three metres from the actual explosion. Mr Walker said the blast happened by the door in the foyer and that glass and metal nuts were left on the floor . He said he lay next to his wife for up to an hour until she was stretchered on a table to an ambulance .
His two daughters phoned to say they were safe. Chris Parker, 33, a rough-sleeper, was in the foyer, where he regularly goes to ask for money as crowds head home. He said: Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else . As people were coming out of the glass doors I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming.
An ambulance at the scene after 22 people were killed (PA)
It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try to help.
There were people lying on the floor everywhere . I saw a little girl .. . she had no legs . I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said where is your mum and daddy? She said, My dad is at work, my mum is up there . Mr Parker said he also tended to a woman who had serious leg and head injuries .
He said: She passed away in my arms . She was in her sixties and said she had been with her family. Commuters at a nearby station fled in panic after the attack (PA)
I haven t stopped crying . The most shocking part of it is that it was a kids concert . There were nuts and bolts all over the floor . People had holes in their backs.
In the aftermath, taxi drivers turned off their meters and drove people home. Hotels and locals opened their doors to people stranded in the city centre. Manchester City football club opened its Etihad stadium to concert-goers and relatives, who gathered to wait for news.
Family members posted pictures online of loved ones who had failed to return home . A cordon remained around the arena today . Manchester Victoria station, which was evacuated last night, remained shut. The Cobra meeting this morning was chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by intelligence agencies and Scotland Yard s Mark Rowley, the head of UK counter-terrorism.
It is not thought that the bomber was being actively monitored or that he had displayed signs of being a significant threat. Sources said a key focus of the investigation was how he had learned to make a bomb . One possibility being examined is that he was trained overseas, possibly in Syria or Iraq, or had received instruction online.
The Muslim Council of Britain called the attack horrific and criminal .
The anti-terrorist hotline is 0800 789 321.
- ^ at an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester (www.standard.co.uk)
- ^ Today Theresa May condemned the killer s warped and twisted mind . (www.standard.co.uk)
- ^ Georgina Callander, 18, from Tarleton in Lancashire (www.standard.co.uk)
- ^ Reuse content (www.standard.co.uk)
Music fans have criticised security at the Manchester Arena following an explosion killed at least 22 people and injured dozens more. Ariana Grande fans were making their way out of the venue after the concert when a lone male suicide bomber detonated a blast at around 10.30pm, police have said. Witnesses described seeing smoke and smelling burning in the foyer area of the arena, while others reported glass, metal nuts and nails on the floor.
Thousands of people were forced to flee the arena after the blast was triggered.
Since the attack, fans have been tweeting about the security at the venue, with some claiming that it was possible for anyone to “walk in with things under a coat”, and others saying their bags were not checked. A Czech woman who was at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester says that there was almost no security check, rather zero . They let us get in without any check if we have anything with us. Nikola Trochtova told the Czech public radio that the only thing they were interested in was if we had any bottles of water with us . They almost didn’t check our bags, they didn’t take a look”, AP reports.
She says she was leaving the venue when she heard an explosion at the entrance, but only learned about what had happened after returning to her hotel. One woman tweeted: “The last 3 times I’ve seen a show at Manchester Arena they didn’t check my bag even though I had a backpack on.”
“For One Direction, they just kind of jiggled my bag, ‘feeling’ if there was anything harmful . Had a 1L bottle of Lucozade, didn’t open my bag.
“Didn’t even check my bag at all for Little Mix nor 5SOS, despite my bag being full and quite heavy.”
Another person wrote: “Being there at the concert in Manchester, I’m not surprised someone was able to take something into the arena . Security was horrendous.
“Only a bag check, no metal scanners or pat downs for anyone entering through the Manchester Victoria entrance of the arena.”
The Victoria entrance was where the blast occurred, in the foyer area between the arena and Victoria station next door to the venue . It is unclear whether security were present in that area of the venue.
The Independent has contacted Manchester Arena and ShowSec, a security company listed as an official supplier of the venue on its website, for comment
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