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, and injured 59 more. The attack was carried out with explosives planted at Manchester Arena, according to a statement reported by Reuters.
The claim came shortly after a 23-year-old man was arrested in the south of the city and armed police in riot gear raided a nearby flat. Royston Court, on Carlton Road, was cordoned off at about 12.20pm. It is understood that the man who detonated the bomb lived there. Greater Manchester Police have also said they conducted a controlled explosion in the Fallowfield area of the city and made two more arrests.
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.
Twelve seriously injured children under the age of 16 were among the 59 casualties taken to hospital after the attack, according to North West Ambulance Service.
Witnesses said that Monday night’s blast prompted a stampede as the concert ended at Europe’s largest indoor arena. Hundreds of parents, relatives and friends are searching for loved ones.
As police sought to establish if the attacker was part of a broader network, the British prime minister, Theresa May, called a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, Cobra. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street after the meeting, before travelling to Manchester, she said: “All acts of terrorism are cowardly . . . but 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.”
It was the worst terrorist incident in Britain since the 2005 London suicide bombings, in which 52 people died. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said security is being stepped up in the UK capital; the Metropolitan Police has confirmed that more officers are being deployed in London.
UK political parties have suspended campaigning for next month’s general election.