Explosion at concert treated as terror attack

The explosion at the Manchester Arena which left 19 dead and dozens injured is being treated as a 'terrorist incident'.

Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, 6:57 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:29 pm
Armed police at the Manchester Arena after last night's explosion

Greater Manchester Police's Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, said the explosion was being treated as a terror attack until the force has 'further information' as he confirmed the death toll in the early hours.

If confirmed as terrorism it would be the worst attack in the UK since 56 people were killed in the bombings in London on July 7,2005.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has described it as a 'barbaric act', while Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts are with those affected by the 'appalling' incident and will chair an emergency Cobra meeting today.

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US media outlets have reported officials in America saying a suicide bomber was suspected as being behind the blast, but the theory has not been confirmed by Greater Manchester Police.

Witnesses reported hearing a 'huge bang' at around 10.30pm, as music fans were leaving an Ariana Grande concert shortly after the show finished.at around 10.30pm yesterday.

One fan, Majid Khan, 22, said: "A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.

"It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit."

Oliver Jones, 17, who attended the concert with his 19-year-old sister, said: "The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run.

"I seen people running and screaming towards one direction and then many were turning around to run back the other way."

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: "At around 10.33pm we received reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena in the city centre.

"This was at the conclusion of the Ariana Grande concert.

"Currently, we have 19 people confirmed to have lost their lives in the explosion and around 50 casualties that are being treated at six hospitals around Greater Manchester.

"My thoughts are very much with those who have been injured and lost their lives and their loved ones at this terrible time, we are doing all we can to support them. "We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information, we are working closely with national counter-terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners.

"This is clearly a very concerning time for everyone. We are doing all that we can, working with local and national agencies to support those affected as we gather information about what happened last night."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This is an absolutely horrifying incident and our thoughts are with everyone affected, especially those who have lost loved ones or been injured and traumatised.

"If it is confirmed this was a terrorist attack it is a monstrous act but also a deeply futile one. Manchester is a proud and strong city and we will not allow those who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims.

"We give heartfelt thanks to our emergency services for their response and council staff are doing all they can to support."