EghtesadOnline: Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to combat the “ideology” behind Britain’s worst terrorist attack in 12 years after a suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State killed 22 people at a pop concert.
Campaigning for next month’s general election was suspended indefinitely. In her first public appearance since the bombing, May said many children died in an act of “cold calculation” in the northern city of Manchester, Bloomberg reported.
“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent and defenseless young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” said May outside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence in London.
At about 10:30 p.m., just as pink balloons filled the air to mark the end of Grande’s concert and her young fans started to leave, a blast ripped through the foyer of the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena.
At least 59 people were wounded and taken to eight hospitals in the city, some with life-threatening injuries.
Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement in both Arabic and English -- saying the attack was carried out by one of its followers who detonated improvised explosive devices in the concert venue. The statement was picked up by SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist channels on social media.
The tragedy is the latest in a series of attacks to traumatize Europe over the past two years and is sure to be discussed at this week’s meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels. U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring the alliance to do more to fight terrorism and he will need to decide whether he wants to push this argument at the Brussels meeting.
The attack came just two weeks before the June 8 election and as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. The U.K. collaborates closely with its EU allies on security and will fall out of a lot of the bloc’s existing intelligence framework when it leaves in two years.
May was one of Britain’s longest-serving home secretaries until she became prime minister last year and is the country’s most experienced senior politician when it comes to dealing with terrorism and security.
Police believe they know the identity of the suicide bomber and have arrested a 23-year-old man in south Manchester as a suspected accomplice.
The attack -- the worst since the London bombings of 2005 -- coincided with the anniversary of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby near the Royal Artillery barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, in 2013. Rigby was run down and hacked to death by two men who had been radicalized by Islamist extremist preachers.
U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in from Israel, calling the culprits “evil losers.” He is on his first foreign trip, heading to Europe for a round of high-level summits with world leaders, first in Brussels and then on to Sicily for a Group of Seven meeting.
“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term, they would think that’s a great name,” Trump said in Bethlehem. “This wicked ideology must be obliterated, and I mean completely obliterated.”
May chaired a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee, which brings together ministers and security officials, at 9 a.m. in London. Another one will be held later in the day, while the premier will visit Manchester. The terrorism threat level remains at severe.
It’s the second time in as many years that national campaigning has been halted by extremist violence. The murder of Labour politician Jo Cox, who campaigned for the U.K. to stay in the EU, took place a week before the country voted on the Brexit referendum.
The bombing also evoked memories of the attack in 2015 on the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, where gunmen mowed down rock fans. The concert-goers in Manchester were even younger, with some witnesses telling U.K. media that children as young as nine were at the event.
One witness told the BBC that parents were standing on walls screaming for their children. Hotels in the city took in children while attempts were made to trace their families. Pictures of missing teens were posted on social media by friends and relatives trying to trace them.
“The concert had finished and we were all leaving and there was an explosion to our left and people started running,” television actress Isabel Hodgins, who was at the show, told Sky. “It smelled of burning.”