Britain is on critical terror alert with military troops set to bolster police forces across the nation amid fears Manchester attacker Salman Abedi did not act alone.
Yesterday evening, the United Kingdom suffered its deadliest terror attack in over a decade, when a bomb exploded at a pop concert at the Manchester Arena. A concert held by singer Ariana Grande was drawing to a close, and as attendees left the arena through the foyer, a blast occurred. Police were called to the scene late in the evening of Monday 22 May, and at the time of writing, 22 people have been confirmed dead, with a further 59 injured.
As people around the world react to the explosion at Monday evening’s concert, there will be many developments over the coming hours and days as we learn more about this brutal and shocking attack. This is what we know about the attack so far.
Greater Manchester Police were called to the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena at around 22:33 BST. Dozens of emergency services vehicles, including 60 ambulances, streamed into the immediate vicinity of the arena, which is situated close to Victoria train station in Manchester. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, more than 240 calls were made to emergency services. The police then urged people to stay away from the incident, in order to allow first responders to deal with a “serious incident”.
Since then, the Greater Manchester Police have reported that 22 people have died, with 59 injured. The police also confirmed that children were among the dead and that the attack was carried out by one man wearing a backpack, who also died during the explosion. Chief Constable Ian Hopkins says the Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terror attack.
“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.”
According to police investigation, the male suicide bomber attacked the Manchester Arena with an improvised weapon. Eyewitnesses reported nuts and bolts being strewn across the floor of the foyer where the attack occurred. Greater Manchester Police are currently trying to determine if the suicide bomber was working alone, or as part of an organisation.
Victims of the attack are being treated at one of six hospitals around Manchester, and now, the area around Victoria Station has been cordoned off, with the train station expected to remain closed today while forensic investigators gather further evidence.
We spoke to local resident Gary Bierton, who told of the scene at Victoria station, two hours before the explosion occurred and how hours after the blast, people remained in a state of shock.
“I walked through Victoria station and past where the explosion happened around 8.30 last night as people were heading in – very normal evening, as you’ve probably heard a lot of teenagers and parents. Around 10.30, [I] heard the explosion from my flat, after that the scene was a major emergency response, including a lot of undercover police cars. For hours afterwards, people stayed around in a state of shock and confusion. You could see on what is normally a very busy main road small groups of people sitting. I think you become [desensitized] to these kinds of acts in society. But for it to be at that event is sickening. And you could see that sheer confusion from the way people were around for hours and hours afterward.”
Gary also described the layout of the foyer where the blast occurred and explained how the location of the explosion made it difficult for emergency services and first responders to get to the scene quickly.
“There is a wide flight of outdoor stairs around 50 steps high, quite steep that leads to the ticket box office. You can go into the arena from there on the left but can also then walk on a kind of bridge concourse into Victoria train station if you go the other way. The only exit from there is down a flight of around 50 stairs or via a concourse to Victoria station. The area that person has targeted is ruthlessly calculated.”
As Greater Manchester Police continue their investigation into the attacks, we will bring you more information as it breaks. If you are concerned about a loved one who may have been in the area at the time of the explosion, the police have created a special hotline: +44 0161 856 9400. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at this time.