Britain was today reeling from a shock of the worst terrorist attack in more than a decade after 22 persons, many of them children, were killed and 59 injured in Manchester, a city with a large population of Indian and Pakistani immigrants, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the venue of a crowded pop concert late Monday evening. He was later identified as Salman Abedi (22) of Libyan origin. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The police said they knew the identity of the bomber, suspected to be a British, and were trying to establish whether he “had acted alone or as part of a network”. Hours after the attack, parents were frantically searching for their children. At least 15 children were reported to be missing. The youngest victim was identified as eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos. Hospitals were struggling to cope with patients.
Theresa May, PM, who visited Manchester, called it “the worst attack the city has experienced and the worst-ever to hit the north of England”. She condemned the attacker for his “sickening cowardice” in targeting “defenceless children”. The ongoing campaig for the June 8 General Election was suspended and the Union Jack at Downing Street flew at half-mast.
The incident occurred shortly after 10.30 pm as the concert by popular American singer Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena was drawing to a close. The sound of the deafening explosion set off a stampede as panic-stricken people tried to flee. There were heart-rending scenes. The audience was overwhelmingly young, mostly teenagers out to hear their favourite singer. Some were celebrating their birthday. Grande tweeted: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
Media reports said the attacker was carrying his identity papers. A 23-year-old man has been arrested. More arrests and raids are likely to flush out potential terrorists. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins confirmed the attacker had died in the explosion.
“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,” he said.Police were also looking into complaints of lax security at the concert. There were reports that there were no security checks as people walked into the foyer where the attack occurred.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “horrified by the horrendous events”. As the city struggled to come to terms with the tragedy, Mayor Andy Burnham said the city would “not be defeated”.
Source : Tribune India