UPDATE: According to the SITE Intel Group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the bombing in Manchester, but did not provide any proof.
“With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Kalifah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion.”
The full statement, translated by SITE Intel Group, follows.
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) May 23, 2017
At least 22 people have been confirmed dead, while 59 others are reported to be injured following what United Kingdom authorities suspect may be a terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday, May 22.
The attack in Manchester happened in the wake of an Ariana Grande concert, as fans – many of them children – were exiting the arena. Miss Grande was not hurt during the explosion.
The New York Times reported that Manchester police believe the suspected attacker was armed with an “improvised explosive device” that was used as a suicide bomb. Nuts, bolts, and nails were reportedly released during the explosion and were scattered as shrapnel across the foyer of the Manchester Arena, injuring scores of Ariana Grande fans. So far there are no reports of more attackers.
Manchester police believe they know the identity of the attacker, but are unable to release his name at this time due to the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation. The police in Manchester is also investigating the possibility that the lone bombing suspect may be a member of a wider network.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that Manchester police were treating the incident as an act of terrorism.
“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
The star of Monday night’s concert in Manchester reacted to the tragedy on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
The parents of fans were urged to gather at nearby hotels where all lost children would be directed to reconnect with their families, while some of the children were being kept in the Manchester Arena.
As is often the case after attacks of this nature, as witnessed in Germany and France following terror attacks, rumors quickly began to circulate in the hours after the incident. The false reports included incorrect details about the assailant and searches for people who were not involved.
— Chanson d'automne (@Rogue_Eyre) May 23, 2017
Some of these false rumors even made it into British mainstream media accounts. It was falsely reported that a local Manchester hospital close to the scene had been infiltrated by a lone gunman, but Manchester police were quick to dispel the rumor.
Police have attended an incident @roh
Scene searched, no offences and all staff &patient's are safe &well
— GMP Oldham (@GMPOldham) May 23, 2017
Some social media users even went so far as to post an image of Ariana Grande – supposedly exiting the Manchester Arena – looking as if she had been injured in the attack. However, it was quickly reported that the picture was in fact taken during a film shoot in 2015.
Fake News! This is NOT Ariana Grande in Manchester. It's from a filmset in 2015. Stay safe! pic.twitter.com/FhoqSISO4e
— Julian Paul (@bildschirmspiel) May 22, 2017
Soon after the Manchester Arena bombing, personal accounts from people who had been at the scene of the explosion began to surface. One such report came from Manchester resident Charlotte Campbell, a mother to one of the concert attendees. Her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, had not been in contact with Mrs. Campbell since 8:30 p.m. Monday night. Mrs. Campbell added that it was “the most horrible feeling ever to know your daughter is there and you can’t find her,” and not knowing whether she was dead or alive.
“She was enjoying herself, and we’ve not heard anything from her since. We’ve phoned hospitals. We’ve phoned everywhere we can think. We’ve posted on every social network, and there’s nothing.”
We have still not found OLIVIA CAMPBELL. If you see her please contact me ASAP. pic.twitter.com/8LboKg0B2n
— Aleshia Anne (@Hello_Leesha) May 23, 2017
Another reveler, Laura Bruce, who was accompanying her younger sister Amy, was still inside the Manchester Arena when “everyone below us just turned and ran. Laura said that they weren’t able to “get out for five minutes” due to being higher up in the venue. She added that when they finally exited the area, they saw “a man” that was “just covered in blood.”
To Sophie Tedd and her friend Jessica Holmes, the explosion sounded like “a speaker had blown,” but then they noticed people running out of the Manchester Arena and proceeded to leave the venue.
“The police were outside telling us to keep running, to run away from Victoria station.”
Some of the biggest stars in the music industry have taken to social media to express their condolences and support for those who were affected by the Manchester bombing.
wishing I could give my friend @arianagrande a great big hug right now… love love love you …. so sorry you had to be apart of such a tragic event! my most sincere condolences to anyone and everyone affected by this horrific attack! all I can do is send as much HOPE & PEACE your way! This MUST end! No more war …. no more innocent lives taken …. L-O-V-E ????❤️???????????? @happyhippiefdn
every musician feels sick & responsible tonight—shows should be safe for you. truly a worst nightmare. sending love to manchester & ari
— Lorde (@lorde) May 23, 2017
My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight. I'm sending all my love.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) May 23, 2017
Tearing up imagining innocent concert goers losing their lives.. praying for everyone and all #arianators. ????????????????????????
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) May 22, 2017
My heart hurts for my sister, Ariana & every family affected by this tragic event in the U.K. Innocent lives lost. I'm so sorry to hear this
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) May 23, 2017
My heart is with you Manchester. Just come off stage in London, it's gut-wrenching. So very sorry for the families who have lost loved ones.
— KT Tunstall (@KTTunstall) May 23, 2017
MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO PPL OF MANCHESTER…HAD SPECIAL TIMES THERE FROM YOUTH & BEYOND
— Cher (@cher) May 22, 2017
Praying for everyone at @ArianaGrande's show
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) May 22, 2017
I'm heartbroken over what happened in Manchester tonight.
Sending love to everyone involved. H
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) May 23, 2017
Politicians from all over the world have also shared their sympathies with the victims of the Manchester bombing.
Britain’s leading politicians reacted by agreeing to suspend campaigning for the June 8 general election out of respect for the victims of the attack. The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said that he was “horrified” by news of the Manchester Arena attack.
“I have spoken with the prime minister, and we have agreed that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice. I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night. My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.”
Heartbreaking news from Manchester. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones or been injured in this barbaric attack.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 23, 2017
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that her “thoughts are with all those affected by this barbaric act.” Ms. Rudd added that she was “proud of the [Manchester] police and first responders who reacted to this tragic incident so swiftly.”
U.S. President Donald Trump extended his “deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families,” and expressed solidarity with the United Kingdom. Trump also used the opportunity to reaffirm his campaign promise of tough action on terrorist organizations.
“Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed; we cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people. And in today’s attack, it was mostly innocent children. The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever. This wicked ideology must be obliterated, and I mean completely obliterated, and the innocent life must be protected.”
Condeno el ataque de Manchester. Mi pesar a las familias de las víctimas fallecidas y mis deseos de pronta recuperación a los heridos. MR
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) May 23, 2017
Pained by the attack in Manchester. We strongly condemn it. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2017
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) May 23, 2017
We strongly condemn the heinous attack in Manchester-an attack against us all. We stand by the relatives of victims and the people of the UK
— Alexis Tsipras (@tsipras_eu) May 23, 2017
Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the British Prime Minister following Manchester bomb attack
— President of Russia (@KremlinRussia_E) May 23, 2017
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) May 23, 2017
On Tuesday morning, May 23, the prime minister will convene an emergency session with the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) to plan a course of action for the city of Manchester.
[Featured Image by Dave Thompson/Getty Images]