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22 Killed, 59 Injured in Blast at Ariana Grande Concert in Manchester Arena

British police said the incident, in which at least 50 people were injured, was being treated as a terrorist incident. Police carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device several hours after the blast

Reuters

Updated:May 23, 2017, 12:26 PM IST
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Manchester: At least 22 people were killed and 59 injured in a blast at a concert in the English city of Manchester on Tuesday morning where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing. British police have confirmed that there was only one attacker and that the terrorist has been killed in the explosion.

The police have added that the incident, wherein there are children among those killed, was being treated as a terrorist incident. Police carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device several hours after the blast.

Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the victims and families of those involved in "the appalling terrorist attack". The government is expected to call an emergency cabinet meeting to deal with the incident.

"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack," May said in a statement.

ALSO READ | Manchester Arena Attack: What we Know so Far

Police said they responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:35 pm (03:05 am IST) at the arena, which has a capacity for 21,000 people, and where the US singer had been performing to an audience that included many children.

Police carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect device several hours after the blast.

If confirmed as a terrorism incident, it would be the deadliest attack in Britain by terrorist since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in July 2005.

ALSO READ | Manchester Arena Attack: 'It was Sheer Panic, Lucky to Have Gotten Away'

The blast also came two and half weeks ahead of an election in which Prime Minister Theresa May is predicted by opinion polls to win a large majority.

A witness who attended the concert said she felt a huge blast as she was leaving the arena, followed by screaming and a rush by thousands of people trying to escape the building. A video posted on Twitter showed fans, many of them young, running from the venue.

ALSO READ | Islamic State Supporters Celebrate Manchester Attack Online, no Official Claim

"We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming," concert-goer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters.

If confirmed as a terrorism incident, it would be the deadliest attack in Britain by terrorists since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in July 2005.

"It was a huge explosion - you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out."

ALSO READ | Manchester Arena Attack: Videos of Panic Among Crowds Emerge

Paula Robinson, 48, from West Dalton about 40 miles east of Manchester, said she was at the train station next to the arena with her husband when she felt the explosion and saw dozens of teenage girls screaming and running away from arena.

“We ran out,” Robinson told Reuters. “It was literally seconds after the explosion. I got the teens to run with me.”

ALSO READ | New York Steps up Security After Manchester Concert Blast

Robinson took dozens of teenage girls to the nearby Holiday Inn Express hotel and tweeted out her phone number to worried parents, telling them to meet her there. She said her phone had not stopped ringing since her tweet.

“Parents were frantic running about trying to get to their children,” she said. “There were lots of lots children at Holiday Inn.”

A spokesman for Ariana Grande, 23, said the singer was "okay". The singer tweeted:

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but US officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist terrorists on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

ALSO READ | Manchester Arena Attack: Singer Ariana Grande Safe After Blast at Her Concert, Tweets She is 'Broken'

Two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast.

"The choice of venue, the timing and the mode of attack all suggest this was terrorism," said a US counter-terrorism official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and is a popular concert and sporting venue.

Britain is on its second-highest alert level of "severe" meaning an attack by terrorists is considered highly likely.

British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

In March, a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing to death a police officer who was on the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene.

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