UK reeling from shock suicide attack at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

In one of the worst terrorist attacks on the United Kingdom soil, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a concert at the Manchester Arena yesterday night, killing 22 and injuring at least 59 people.

An unidentified man detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) at the Manchester Arena minutes after American pop singer Ariana Grande concluded her performance to a crowd of over 20,000 people. Grande, who said she was ‘broken’ by the incident, was reported unharmed. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to chair a high-level emergency meeting today and take stock of the situation.

British police are trying to determine whether he was working alone or was part of a larger network. They are working with the National Counter Terrorist Policing Network and the UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who attacked the Manchester Arena.

The Greater Manchester Police set up an emergency helpline for those concerned about their loved ones or anyone who may have been in the vicinity. The helpline number is 0161 856 9400.

Residents of Manchester came out in support of victims of the attack by offering transportation and lodging facilities for those stranded. The hashtag ‘#RoomForManchester’ helped concert-goers locate rooms, beds and homes available. Gurudwaras in Manchester have opened their doors, and are offering free food and shelter to those who have been affected by the explosion, as well as others. Harjinder S Kukreja, a local restaurateur, listed Gurudwaras that are open for ‘ALL’ people on Twitter.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May suspended campaigning for the forthcoming general election for the day. May has chaired an emergency Cobra meeting in London into the suspected terror blast at the Ariana Grande concert, which left 22 dead and more than 50 injured.

Leaders from around the world have been outspoken in condemning the attack.

Also read: At least 19 dead, 50 injured by explosion at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Pained by the attack in Manchester. We strongly condemn it. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.” 

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had offered condolences to families of those who lost loved ones, saying the world must come together as one to fight terrorism. Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said he was ‘absolutely shocked and saddened’ by the loss of lives and suffering caused by the ‘senseless violence’.

The High Commission of India in the UK has tweeted helpline numbers for any Indians injured during the Manchester Arena explosion. The number is 020 7632 3035. “We’ll activate more helplines shortly to be of further assistance to families & friends of those affected by attack,” it tweeted.

US President Donald Trump, on his first foreign visit, vehemently condemned the blast, calling those responsible “evil losers”.

“I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families – so many families of the victims,” he said. “I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.”

Russia President Vladimir Putin expressed willingness to extend anti-terror links with the UK following the attack.

“We firmly condemn this cynical, inhuman crime. We expect that those behind it will not escape the punishment they deserve,” Putin said in a statement published by the Kremlin.

“The Russian head of state confirmed his readiness to bolster anti-terrorism cooperation with our British partners, both on a bilateral basis and in the framework of broader international efforts,” it added.

Celebrities from around the world joined the flood of condolence messages that poured in on social media for the victims of the attack.

Ariana Grande, meanwhile, will not be continuing with her tour. According to TMZ, the singer has indefinitely suspended her itinerary in the wake of the attack.

Sources close to Grande claimed she has decided not to perform on Thursday in London and has also put her entire European tour on hold. She was scheduled to perform in England, Belgium, Poland, Germany and Switzerland. Eyewitnesses said the explosion was heard outside the auditorium after the artiste had finished her show and left the stage.

A separate statement from her team, which her manager Scooter Braun shared on Twitter, read, “Tonight, our hearts are broken. Words cannot express our sorrow for the victims and families harmed in this senseless attack.

We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act. We are thankful for the selfless service tonight of Manchester’s first responders who rushed towards danger to help save lives. We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers.”