- UK Threat Level Raised to Highest Level After Manchester Terror Attack
The United Kingdom terror threat level has been raised to the highest level of “critical,” meaning further attacks may be imminent, the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May, has said.
The revelation, it was gathered, came after investigators were unable to rule out Manchester bombing suspect Salman Abedi acted alone.
Twenty-two people were killed and 59 injured on Monday night when a suicide bomber attacked concert-goers at Manchester Arena where a United States pop singer, Ariana Grande was billed to perform.
But May said military personnel would now be deployed to protect key sites.
She added that military personnel might also be seen at other events, such as concerts, and would work under the command of police officers.
Reacting to the attack outside her Downing Street office, after a meeting with security and intelligence chiefs, May disclosed that the police believed they knew the identity of the bomber.
Describing all terrorist acts as “cowardly,” she was quoted by Reuters as saying that “this attack stands out for its appalling sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless, children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
The prime minister also said security services were working to see if a wider terror group was involved in the attack.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State terror group yesterday claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack.
According to Reuters, the Islamist terror group, which has in recent times been forced from its occupied territories in Syria and Iraq, had claimed the attack was in revenge against “Crusaders”.
But this claim is being disputed by Western experts, who noted that the group had offered two contradictory accounts of the attack, which also did not tally with the British police version.
The US director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, said the US has not confirmed the claims by IS, adding: “They claim responsibility for every attack. We have not verified yet the connection.”
However, the Manchester police said it had arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester in connection with the attack, which fell less than three weeks before the national election.
Besides the arrest of the yet-to-be-identified 23-year-old man, the British police also raided a property in the Fallowfield district of the city, where they were said to have carried out a controlled explosion, in search for accomplices.
Also, witnesses in the Whalley Range district said armed policemen had surrounded a newly-built block of flats along a usually serene tree-lined street.
The attacker, who was later identified as Salman Abedi was believed to have blown himself up.
He was born in Manchester though with Libyan roots, the BBC said.
Greater Manchester Police said its priority was to establish whether Abedi had worked alone or not.
In the aftermath of the attack, rated as the deadliest in the UK since the 2005 by four British Muslims who killed 52 in a London subway, both the cities of Manchester and London have been on high alert as more policemen were drafted into the streets.
The attack occurred on Monday by 10.30p.m. local time at a concert venue in the northern English city just as thousands of fans were filing out of venue’s four exits.
Witnesses reported hearing a “huge bomb-like bang” in the arena and described being knocked from their feet by an explosion. According to the accounts, dozens of injured, and possibly dead, people, including children, were littered on the floor.
Other accounts described the scene of panic that ensued as the revellers stampeded towards the exits.
By 1.10 a.m local time yesterday morning, 19 people have been confirmed dead and over 50 others injured. But the casualty figures have since risen to 23 dead.
In her initial reaction after the attack, Prime Minister May said her thoughts were with the victims and families of those affected in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.”
Greater Manchester Police Chief, Constable Ian Hopkins, corroborated May’s statement that the police “are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information,” adding: “This is clearly a very concerning time for everyone. I want to thank people for their support and ask them to remain vigilant.”
So far, not many in the fatality list have been identified. But among the few that have been identified was an eight-year-old girl, who is the youngest known victim.
Her mother and sister were among 59 people injured in the attack. In all nearly half of those reported dead were children. The names of the three victims released are: Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, Georgina Callander and John Atkinson, 28.
The AP said the attack sparked a night-long search for loved-ones — parents for the children they had accompanied or had been waiting to pick up, and friends for each other after groups were scattered by the blast. Political parties in the UK have meanwhile suspended their campaigns for the general election following the attack, while the US pop star, Ariana Grande, whose concert was attacked, tweeted she was “broken”.
The attack which sent shock waves far beyond British shores has been condemned by world leaders. CNN quoted the US President Donald Trump as calling those behind the attack “evil losers.”.
Trump had said he would not call the plotters of attack “monsters,” because they would like the term. “We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” he said.
Also condemning the attack, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the incident as “brutal attack on young people everywhere.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Pained by the attack in Manchester. We strongly condemn it. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured.”
A Japanese government spokesman said: “If this is a terrorist attack, such abhorrent acts of terrorism cannot be justified for any reason, and Japan firmly condemns such an act of terrorism.
“I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims and families of the deceased and my prayers to a swift recovery for the wounded. Japan stands in solidarity with the people of the UK.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Canadians are shocked by the news of the horrific attack in Manchester tonight. Please keep the victims and their families in your thoughts.”
Also, Nigeria’s Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has condemned in strong terms what he described as despicable terrorist attack on innocent people in Manchester on Monday.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo who condoled with the government and people of UK on the loss of its citizens in the attack, encouraged Prime Minister Theresa May that light would always prevail over darkness.
“On behalf of the people and Government of Nigeria, Osinbajo expresses heartfelt condolences and solidarity with the government and people of the UK in this period of grief.
“Describing the attack as a dastardly act and heinous crime, Osinbajo assures Prime Minister Theresa May that the prayers and thoughts of Nigerians are with the British people as they mourn the victims, many of the them being young people.
“Osinbajo is confident that light of the civilised world will always prevail against the darkness of depravity, and he trusts that Britons and citizens of other nations across the world will continue to show resilience and courage in the wake of such terrorist crimes.
“He prays that God Almighty will comfort the bereaved families and also wishes a speedy recovery for the injured,” the statement added.