MANCHESTER: Police on Tuesday named a young man — reportedly British-born of Libyan descent — as the suspect behind a suicide bombing that ripped into young fans at a concert in Manchester, killing 22 including an eight-year-old girl.
Manchester police identified the suspect as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, but declined to give any further details. British media said he was born in the northwestern English city and that his Libyan parents had fled the regime of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Prime Minister Theresa May vowed “terrorists will not prevail”, after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack at the conclusion of US pop star Ariana Grande’s concert late Monday at the Manchester Arena, one of Europe’s largest indoor venues.
Threatening more attacks, IS said in a statement published on its social media channels: “One of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds.”
Manchester police chief constable Ian Hopkins told reporters: “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.”
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 23, 2017
Witnesses described the horror when the suicide bomber blew himself up and anguished parents appealed for information on their loved ones, as Mancunians opened their doors to shelter people lost in the confusion, and taxi drivers offered free rides.
“There were fathers carrying their little girls in tears. People were pushing down the stairs. It was just… chaos,” Sebastian Diaz, a 19-year-old from Newcastle, told AFP.
Britain’s worst terror bloodshed for more than a decade came just over two weeks before the country votes in a general election, and after a series of deadly jihadist attacks across Europe.
Police staged an armed raid on a Manchester address believed to be linked to Abedi, carrying out a controlled explosion to gain entry after arresting a 23-year-old man earlier Tuesday in connection with the attack.
“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,” May said after an emergency ministerial meeting.
She said during a visit to Manchester that police would look at the security of such venues, while the government would also review police resources.
But while campaigning for the June 8 election was suspended by the main parties after the attack, she insisted: “The terrorists will not prevail.”