‘Sickening cowardice’ claims 22 lives – Blood, horror as bomber strikes young concert crowd

This frame grab taken from a handout video taken on May 22, 2017 and released to the media via the Twitter account of @HANNAWWH shows the audience near the stage after the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in the northern British city of Manchester where police said a man set off an ‘improvised explosive device’. Twenty-two people, including children, were killed and dozens injured when a man detonated a bomb at a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande, in Britain’s deadliest terror attack in 12 years. (AFP)

MANCHESTER, England, May 23, (Agencies): British police on Tuesday identified the suicide bomber who killed 22 people, including children, in an attack on a crowded concert hall in Manchester, and said they were trying to establish whether he had acted alone or with help from others. The suspected attacker was named as Salman Abedi, aged 22. Two US officials who have been in contact with British authorities said he was believed to have travelled to Manchester from London by train. “Our priority, along with the police counter-terrorism network and our security partners, is to continue to establish whether he was acting alone or working as part of a wider network,” Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.

Police raided houses in the northern English city and arrested a 23-year-old man after Monday evening’s attack, the deadliest in Britain for 12 years. Prime Minister Theresa May called it an act of “sickening cowardice” targeting “defenceless children and young people”. Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed responsibility for what it called a revenge attack against “Crusaders”, but there appeared to be contradictions in its account of the operation.

“All acts of terrorism are cowardly,” May said in a statement outside her Downing Street office after a meeting with British security and intelligence chiefs. “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.” She said security services were working to see if a wider group was involved in the attack, which fell less than three weeks before a national election.

The election campaign has been suspended for now as a mark of respect. May spoke to US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and several other foreign leaders on Tuesday about the attack, her spokesman said. She also visited the police headquarters and a children’s hospital in Manchester.

In Kuwait, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent Tuesday two cables of condolences to Queen Elizabeth II of the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May on the victims of the Manchester explosion that left scores of people dead or wounded. In the cables, His Highness the Amir reiterated Kuwait’s position based on rejecting such terrorist acts that target innocents, while voicing support to all measures the UK is taken to uphold its security and stability. His Highness the Amir also offered sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wished swift recovery for the wounded. Another two cables of the same sentiments were sent by His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Kuwait condemned on Tuesday an attack that rocked an arena in the British city of Manchester, killing scores of people and wounding more than a dozen others.

Kuwait is vehemently opposed to all forms of violence and supports all measures Britain takes to uphold its security and stability, an official source at Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry noted. The source also extended deepest condolences over the loss of life, wishing a speedy recovery for the wounded. Desperate parents and friends posted heart-wrenching messages and pictures on social media in the search for their loved ones who had been at the concert by Ariana Grande, a US singer who has a large number of young and teenage fans. “Please … please retweet. Looking for my daughter and her friend,” Michael MacIntyre wrote on Twitter, alongside an image of his daughter Laura and her friend Eilidh. Police raided a property in the Manchester district of Fallowfield where they carried out a controlled explosion. Witnesses in another area, Whalley Range, said armed police had surrounded a newly built apartment block on a usually quiet tree-lined street. Manchester remained on high alert, with additional armed police drafted in. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more police had been ordered onto the streets of the British capital.

Monday’s attack was the deadliest in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in 2005. But it will have reverberations far beyond British shores.

Attacks in cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamist radicalism. Islamic State has repeatedly called for attacks as retaliation for Western involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Witnesses related the horror of the Manchester blast, which unleashed a stampede just as the concert ended at Europe’s largest indoor arena, full to its capacity of 21,000. “We ran and people were screaming around us and pushing on the stairs to go outside and people were falling down, girls were crying, and we saw these women being treated by paramedics having open wounds on their legs … it was just chaos,” said Sebastian Diaz, 19. “It was literally just a minute after it ended, the lights came on and the bomb went off.” A video posted on Twitter showed fans, many of them young, screaming and running from the venue. Dozens of parents frantically searched for their children, posting photos and pleading for information on social media. Queen Elizabeth held a minute’s silence at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London.

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