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Alex Pesic — Manchester Evening News May 23, 2017

Injured helped away from the scene of the Manchester blast. Click to enlarge

A devastating terror attack on young music fans leaving a concert at Manchester Arena has claimed 22 innocent lives.

Police today confirmed that children are among those who were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a device in a foyer at the venue.

Thousands of fans were streaming out of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande when the blast exploded shortly after 10.30pm on Monday night.

Witnesses described scenes of ‘absolute carnage’ as concert goers fled in terror. Nineteen innocent concert goers were killed at the Arena and three died from their injuries in hospital. A further 59 people are being treated for their injuries at eight hospitals across the region.

The Manchester Arena atrocity is the worst terror attack in the UK since the 2005 London bombings and has been met with shock and revulsion around the globe.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” and campaigning in the General Election has been halted immediately by all parties.

The newly elected mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said the city was facing its darkest day and added: “This was an evil act”.

Around 21,000 fans were in the Arena for the sell-out concert by 23-year-old singer Ariana Grande, a former children’s TV star. Many of the audience were schoolgirls accompanied by their parents or teenagers who were being collected at the end of the show to be taken home.

Eyewitnesses saw dozens of bloodied concert goers struggling to leaving the venue, many supporting the wounded and with their clothes torn and ripped due to the explosion.

Jane Pearson, 46, a high school English language mentor from Chadderton, had gone to the concert with her daughter, Rachel, 21, and said the arena was packed full of young children.

She said: “It’s the worst kind of people who could even consider doing something like this?”

Details of the terror attack were revealed this morning by the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Ian Hopkins.

He said: “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one we all hoped we would never see.

“Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives.”

More than 400 police officers were mobilised in response to the attack. The focus of the investigation will be to track down anyone who may have helped the suicide bomber prepare the attack.

Mr Hopkins added: “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 if he was acting alone or as part of an network.”

Police and armed officers at the Manchester Arena after the blast

Police and armed officers at the Manchester Arena after the blast

The terrorist attacker died at the Arena and Mr Hopkins said that he was carrying what police believe was an ‘improvised explosive device’.

A large police cordon has been put in place around Manchester Arena and Victoria train station, which will remain closed while forensics officers examine the scene.

Mr Hopkins added: “Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in communities. We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times.

“In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues. It is important that we all continue to remain vigilant but also to go about our daily lives.”

Staff at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal, Wythenshawe hospital, and Oldham Royal called in extra staff to deal with the large number of injures.

Mr Hopkins said: “I want to thank all those members of the emergency services and other agencies who have worked tirelessly throughout the night in very difficult circumstances. Their response has been outstanding.”

Emergency numbers have been set up for anyone concerned for loved ones who may not have returned home. They are 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.

The attack will be the most devastating terrorist incident in the UK since the 2005 7/7 attacks in London, in which 56 people were killed.

It comes just months after the Westminster Bridge in March in which four people were fatally injured by a car and an unarmed police officer stabbed to death.

Police and government officials gave no indication which individuals or organisations they believe were responsible for the attack.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham described events as a “terrible night for our great city”, adding: “My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his thoughts were with those caught up in the “terrible incident”

 

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