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UK PM: Britain was the victim of a ‘callous terror attack’

IS claims bombing; Theresa May says security services know the identity of bomber who killed 22 people in Manchester

The day after a a deadly suicide bombing in the northern city of Manchester, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London after an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee, May 23, 2017. (AFP/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)
The day after a a deadly suicide bombing in the northern city of Manchester, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London after an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee, May 23, 2017. (AFP/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that officials had identified the man who carried out a terror bombing at a pop concert in Manchester the night before, but that the details were not cleared for release.

May spoke outside 10 Downing Street at the conclusion of a specially convened meeting of COBRA — the UK’s emergency response committee — to review the suicide bombing that killed 22 people and injured 59 others in the northern city.

“It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester, and of this country, have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack — an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation,” she said. “This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the United Kingdom.”

Manchester police said the bomber set off an improvised explosive device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in the city. Many of those killed and injured were reportedly children. Police said the bomber died in the blast.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The group said in a statement published Tuesday on its social media channels that “one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds,” and threatened more attacks.

The terrorist who blew up his bomb outside a pop concert in Manchester aimed to cause “maximum carnage” by detonating it outside one of the exits, May revealed.

May said the attacker had shown “cold calculation” by targeting children, adding that police believe they know his identity but are not disclosing it for the moment as the investigation continues.

“We now know that a single terrorist detonated his improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue — deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately,” she said.

“The explosion coincided with the conclusion of a pop concert attended by many young families and groups of children,” May continued. “All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people — but this attack stands out for its appalling sickening cowardice — deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people, who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.

“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish, but as an opportunity for carnage,” she said.

British police said on Tuesday they had arrested a suspect in connection with the attack.

“With regards to the ongoing investigation into last night’s horrific attack at the Manchester Arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester,” police said in a statement.

There was mass panic after the explosion at the end of the concert Monday, which was part of Grande’s The Dangerous Woman Tour.

Grande, who was not injured, tweeted hours later: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”

World leaders condemned the attack and offered support. US President Donald Trump, visiting Israel and the West Bank said the people behind the assault were “evil losers” and urged countries to drive out terror ideology from their societies. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered condolences to the families of the victims and said “terrorism is a global threat and it is incumbent on the enlightened countries to defeat it everywhere.”

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