Girl, 8, among dead in arena attack
Warning of more attacks as terror level raised
More terror attacks on key British venues could be imminent, the Prime Minister has warned after security services raised the threat level to “critical”.
It came after police were unable to rule out whether Manchester bomber Salman Abedi acted alone, the Prime Minister said tonight.
Military are now expected to protect key sites in the days ahead as the country faces another possible attack. Sports and other entertainment venues, including Hampden Park in Glasgow – venue for Saturday’s Cup Final – are likely to see extra protection with more armed police and 5,000 soldiers on the streets.
The highest level of warning has only been declared on two occasions, the first in 2006 during an operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.
The following year, security chiefs raised it as they hunted for the men who had tried to bomb a London nightclub, before going on to attack Glasgow Airport.
Former Salford University student Abedi, 22, is believed to have been born in Manchester to parents of Libyan descent.
A girl of eight was among 22 people killed and 59 injured when he detonated a bomb be was carrying at the Manchester Arena.
It exploded just after 10.33pm following a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande. Another man was arrested in the Chorlton area of the city as the police attempt to determine if Abedi acted alone or with others.
The youngest victim was named as eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos who was at the concert with her mother, Lisa, and sister Ashlee Bromwich.
The first victim was Georgina Callander, 18, who was photographed with the star two years ago. Another was John Atkinson, 26, from Bury. Olivia Campbell, 15, also from Bury, was also confirmed dead.
Laura MacIntyre, 15, from Barra, has been found alive in hospital, but there was no news of her friend Eilidh MacLeod, 14.
Twelve children under the age of 16 were among the casualties who were being treated at six hospitals across the city. Sixty ambulances attended the scene. More than 400 armed police officers were deployed to the incident.
Theresa May visited Manchester’s children’s hospital and Royal Infirmary to meet patients and staff.
The blast happened in the arena’s foyer, as people began streaming through the doors. Eyewitnesses reported nuts and bolts strewn around the floor and the smell of explosives.
It is the deadliest militant assault in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man. The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.
“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.
“Our priority is to work with the national counter-terrorist policing network and UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who carried out this attack.”
Manchester police issued an emergency phone number: 0161856 9400
The attack has revived terrible memories of the IRA attack on the city in June 1996 when a huge swathe of the city was damaged by the biggest bomb ever planted on the British mainland.
All national campaigning in the general election has been suspended and Mrs May chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee at 9am on Tuesday. Nicola Sturgeon chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee.
Newly-elected mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham issued a statement in which he referred to the attack as “an evil act”.
He said: “We will do whatever we can to support them. We are grieving today but we are strong,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the emergency services: “I want to thank the hundreds of police, fire and ambulance staff who worked through the night. I want to thank the people of Manchester: even in the minutes after the attack they opened their doors to strangers and drove them away from danger. It will be that spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together.”
Mr Burnham was a minister in the Home Office during the 7/7 attacks on London, which killed 52 people.
He said: “I remember how London felt on that day, I remember it vividly. Manchester will pull together. This city has dealt with difficult things in the past and we will do so now.”