At least 22 people have been killed and a further 59 injured in an explosion that went off during Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena. Police have confirmed that the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack. Children and teenagers are feared to be among the victims due to the pop star’s young fan demographic.
Video taken at the scene shows thousands desperately fleeing the arena after an explosion in the venue’s foyer shortly after 10.30pm on Monday night. Eyewitnesses outside the arena say a loud blast was heard after Grande had finished her set and left the stage. There are unconfirmed reports via Reuters that US intelligent sources believe the incident may have been the work of a suicide bomber.
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Concert goer Majid Khan told the Guardian: “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.”
Home secretary Amber Rudd gave a statement paying tribute to the emergency services and sending thoughts and prayers to the families of the dead and injured. “This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert,” the statement read. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims who have been affected, and I know the whole country will share that view.
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“I’d like to pay tribute to the emergency services who have worked throughout the night professionally and effectively; they have done an excellent job,” the statement continued. “Later on this morning I will be attending Cobra, chaired by the prime minister, to collect more information, to find out more, about this particular attack, and I can’t comment any more on that at the moment. The public should remain alert but not alarmed. If they have anything to report, they should approach the police.
“But I have two further things to add. The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued. This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society. Its intention was to sow fear; its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.”
Ariana Grande, who was not hurt in the explosion, took to Twitter shortly after the incident to express her distress. “Broken,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”
This story is still developing. We will post updates as news is made available.