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Terrorist attack kills 22 at Manchester Arena

A man with an ‘improvised’ bomb killed at least 22 people and injured 59 outside a concert hall full of teenagers in the center Manchester Monday evening, in the UK’s worst terror incident since 2005.

Police said the suicide bomber, who died in the blast, detonated the device around 10:30 p.m. shortly after American pop star Ariana Grande performed at Manchester Arena. Among the dead were young children, police said.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack, although the jihadist group has in the past claimed responsibility for terrorist incidents that were later revealed to be unconnected. Dan Coats, the US director of national intelligence, said ISIS’s role had yet to be confirmed, adding: “They claim responsibility for virtually every attack.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said the security services believed they knew the identity of the suicide bomber behind the ‘ruthless terror attack’, which was ‘one of the worst acts of terrorism we have seen in the UK United”.

“We find it hard to understand the warped, twisted mind that sees a youth hall as an opportunity for carnage,” Ms May said outside 10 Downing Street.

Police carried out two raids in Whalley Range and Fallowfield in south Manchester as part of their investigation and arrested a 23-year-old man outside a Morrison supermarket in Chorlton.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins said authorities were working to establish whether the attacker was “acting alone or part of a network”.

The hunt seemed to be concentrated in the three contiguous districts of Chorlton, Whalley Range and Fallowfield. All regions are ethnically diverse and popular places to live for students. Manchester is the largest university city in the UK outside of London.

Britain’s political leaders, who are in the midst of a general election race, have halted all campaigning.

Two people killed in the attack have been identified: Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, from Leyland in Lancashire and Georgina Callander, a student at Runshaw College in the same town.

Chris Upton, headmaster of Tarleton Community Primary School, where Roussos was a pupil, told the Guardian: “Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word.”

Twelve children under the age of 16 were among the 59 victims taken to hospital after the attack, according to ambulance services.

An Instagram photo of bombshell victim Georgina Callander with Ariana Grande a few years ago © Instagram/Georgina.Bethany

SMG Europe, a venue management company that runs the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena, said the blast happened in a public space outside the venue just after the concert ended.

British Transport Police said the explosion happened in the concourse near the ticket office.

Witnesses described a scene of panic and chaos as hundreds of spectators fled the crowded arena after the explosion. Some said they saw blood splattered on the walkways with shrapnel and broken glass littering the area.

“Everyone had started to leave and there was a huge explosion. Everyone started screaming. There was so much panic,” a witness named Rachel told BBC Radio Manchester. “You couldn’t get out because there were so many people.”

Another witness named Emma told the station that she, her husband and two teenage daughters managed to escape through halls littered with broken glass. “There were bodies everywhere. I really don’t know how we survived it.

After the explosion, friends and family looking for loved ones in the panic and chaos posted portraits on social media in search of information.

Hotels in the immediate area accommodated stranded teenagers and taxis offered free rides from the site to transport hubs.

Eight Manchester area hospitals were treating the injured.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It is hard to believe what has happened here over the past few hours and to put into words the shock, pain and anger we feel today. These were children, young people and their families whom those responsible chose to terrorize and kill. It was an evil act.

The attack is the worst terrorist incident in the UK since the Islamist suicide bombings of London Underground trains and a bus in 2005, which killed 52 people.

The bombardment of a crowd of music concerts recalled the November 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died, many of them shot dead by three Islamist gunmen at the Bataclan concert hall.

Ms Grande tweeted after the attack: ‘Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I’m so sorry. I have no words.

Greater Manchester Police, the UK’s largest urban force outside London, have asked people to stay away from the area. Hospitals refused non-emergency cases.

“Please avoid the area as first responders are working tirelessly at the scene,” a statement read.

Many downtown streets were cordoned off and police on the ground were supported by helicopter.

© Under license from London News Pictures.  05/22/2017.  Manchester, UK.  Police and other emergency services are seen near Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion.  Police have confirmed they are responding to an incident at an Ariana Grande concert at the scene.  Photo credit: Joel Goodman/LNP

Police and other emergency services treat the injured near Manchester Arena © Joel Goodman/LNP

Donald Trump, US President, condemned the attack, saying the perpetrators were “bad losers in life”.

“Terrorists must be removed from our society forever. This evil ideology must be destroyed. Completely erased. Innocent life must be protected,” he said during a visit to Bethlehem for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Britain’s terror threat level is ‘severe’, meaning an attack is considered likely.

In 1996, an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in Manchester city centre. Because a warning was given, only one person was injured but several streets were devastated.

In a post on Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor leader, said: “Terrible incident in Manchester. My thoughts are with everyone affected and our brilliant emergency services.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, condemned the bombing: “This is a shocking and horrific attack targeting children and young people who were simply attending a concert.”

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Survivors recount the moment the bomber struck
UK election campaign suspended
Police are investigating whether the suicide bomber acted alone
Attack Reveals Weak Point in Arena Security

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