19 Dead in Bombing At Manchester Arena

19 people are confirmed dead in an bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.  The attack occurred just after 10:43pm local time just as the concert finished.

Eyewitnesses report Grande finished the final song, and the lights had come up when the incident occurred.  Media reports say possibly as many as 50 people were injured.  Ariana Grande is reported to be safe, and unharmed.

Greater Manchester police are treating this incident as a terrorist attack until proven otherwise.  The Manchester Arena has confirmed the incident.  They’re saying it happened “outside the venue” in a public space.

There are so far no reports of Canadians killed or injured in the bombing.  Canadians requiring emergency assistance are being asked to call toll-free: 00-800-2326-6831 or email: sos@international.gc.ca.

Update: 10:35 p.m: Greater Manchester Police Assure Public

The Greater Manchester Police have released a statement over Twitter.  The Chief Constable Ian Hopkins confirms the incident happened.  Police estimate 50 injured, and 19 dead.

They’ve set up an emergency number for those who may have had family in the area: 0161-856-9400.  “This is clearly a concerning time for people but we are doing all we can working, with local and national agencies to support those affected and gather information about what has happened tonight,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said..

They have confirmed they are treating it as a terrorist attack. Police are asking that anyone with information or concerns report them to an anti-terrorist hotline at: 0800 789321.

Media reports say Prime Minister Theresa May has suspended campaigning in the general election.

Update: 23/5/2017: 9am: May Confirms it as a Terrorist Attack 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a statement following the attack.  “I was devastated when I heard about the innocent victims who were killed or injured at the Ariana Grande concert tonight in Manchester, many of them far too young,” he said.  Victims are beginning to be identified, one girl as 8-year old Saffie Rose Roussous.

Canadian officials are still trying to determine if there were any Canadians among those killed are injured.  Anyone in need of emergency consular assistance should contact the High Commission of Canada at: 0207 004 6000 or Global affairs 24/7 Emergency Response toll free at: 00-800-2326-6831 or collect at: 1-613-996-8885.

British Prime Minister Theresa May confirms it as a terrorist attack saying in a BBC article “it was now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester, and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack that targeted defenceless young people.”

The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.  “They’re losers, just remember that.  This is what I’ve spent the last few days talking about during my trip overseas.  Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement.  Trump is visiting Bethlehem today for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Police have executed warrants in Whalley Range and Fallowfield in connection with the attacks.  A controlled explosion also took place in Fallowfield.  Victoria Station in Manchester will remain closed for the next 24 hours.

Ariana Grande released a statement from her twitter account last night.  “From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry.  I don’t have words.”

Update: 23/5/2017 12:45pm: Suspect’s identity revealed 

Police confirm the suspect’s identity as 22 year old Salman Abedi.  They aren’t commenting further until he has been officially identified.  US Officials are saying he was known to authorities.

They also confirm a second arrest as part of the raids earlier today.   A 23-year old unidentified man was taken into custody in connection with the bombing.  22 people have are now confirmed dead, with 59 injured.  The priority for police, and intelligence is to look at whether he was working alone, or as part of a network.

Prime Minister Theresa May has signed a book of condolences, saying: “Here in this great city a callous and cowardly act was met by the inspirational bravery.”

James Corden, host of the Late, Late Show had this to say about Manchester:

Update: 23/5/2017: 7:15 EDT- May Updates U.K. Terror level

Prime Minister Theresa May has updated the United Kingdom’s terror level to critical, indicating the possibility of further attacks.  The increase was caused by the inability to rule out the possibility Abedi was part of a larger group.  She also has triggered operation Temperer, described by the BBC as “a long-standing emergency plan to put soldiers into key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public.

May said her government felt it was “a proportionate and sensible responsible.”  The investigation is said to be moving at fast pace, with good progress.  The decision to raise the level was made by a group of experts who part of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.

Greater Manchester Police are asking people who witnessed the explosion, and have video to upload them to this link.

A second victim is being identified on social media.  18-year old Georgina Callander was a student at Runshaw College.  She was in the second year of a health and social care course.  The college released a statement saying “We are offering all available support possible at this tragic time, including with our dedicated student support team.”

8-year old Saffie Rousso is being described by her headmaster Chris Upton as a “beautiful little girl in every sense of the word.” The school’s focus will shift to helping students, and staff cope the shock of what happened.  A third victim is 28-year old John Atkinson.

Ariana Grande has suspended her world tour.  She’s cancelled dates later this week in London.  British pop group Take That has cancelled a concert at Manchester Arena out of respect for the victims.

Update: 24/5/2017: 11:30 am EDT: Victims have been identified

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they have spoken with the victims’ immediate families.  Specially trained officers are now supporting the families.  They have arrested four people in connection with the bombing.  One of the suspects is said to be Abedi’s brother.  Police have also triggered a second controlled explosion in Manchester City Centre.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says that Abedi is unlikely to have been working alone.  He was known to Intelligence Agencies.  A direct connection between the Islamic State, and Abedi is unknown at this time.   Rudd told the BBC she was annoyed by the fact information regarding Abedi was leaked by the US.  The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again,” she said, according to reports.

Hashem Abedi has been arrested in Tripoli Photo Credit: The Guardian Newspaper

Reuters is reporting that the suspect’s younger brother has been detained in Tripoli.  Hashem Abedi is suspected to have ties to the Islamic State.  He was born in 1997, and has been living with his parents in Libya.  This is confirmed by a spokesman for the local counter-terrorism force. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to attend the NATO summit in Brussels where terrorism is expected to be at the top of the agenda.

Talks on resuming formal election campaigning have begun.  Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced his party would continue campaigning because terrorism must not “derail our democratic process. The Guardian has named all 22 victims.

 

Update: 24/5/2017: 5:40p.m: May to Discuss Security breach with Trump:

Greater Manchester Police have made two more arrests in Wigan earlier this afternoon.  One male suspect was carrying a suspicious package.  Eyewitnesses report he appeared under the influence.  Police have cordoned off the area in order to assess the package.  The sixth arrest was a female suspect made in North Manchester.   Abedi’s father was arrested with his younger son.

Media reports say that British officials are angry with the U.S. for leaking intelligence.  The Guardian newspaper quotes a source: “We are furious. This is completely unacceptable. These images leaked from inside the US system will be distressing for victims, their families and the wider public. The issue is being raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their US counterparts.”  Prime Minister Theresa May is planning to bring up the breach with President Trump at the N.A.T.O. summit.

Charlotte Campbell spoke at a vigil in Bury, begging people “not to let this beat any of us.”  Campbell’s daughter Olivia is among the dead.  Campbell was physically supported as she spoke to mourners.

Two homeless men are being considered heroes.  Stephen Jones, and Chris Parker were panhandling near the Manchester Arena when the bomb went off.  Parker used t-shirts to help wrap one girl who lost her legs, and tried to save a second woman’s life. Jones pulled nails out of children’s faces.  Both have fundraising campaigns set up to help them.  Chris Parker’s is on GoFundMe  , and Stephen Jones’ is on JustGive.

Ariana Grande has suspended her European Tour, and flown home.  She is offering to pay for funerals.

A seventh arrest has been made in connection with Monday’s attack.  A male suspect was arrested following searches in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.  All seven remain in custody for questioning.

Update: 25/5/2017: Items Seized “Important to Investigation:”

The searches and arrests continue.  One female suspect has been released.  A search is currently underway in Withington in relation to the attack.  Bomb disposal units are assisting.  Searches are being carried out “on a number of addresses.”  Police have seized items they characterize as being “very important to the investigation.”  All 8 suspects are being held are male.

Police have informed the victims’ families of the recent intelligence leaks to US authorities.  The national Police Chiefs’ Council released a statement, which reads in part:  “When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations, and the confidence of the victims, witnesses and their families. “This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”  Greater Manchester Police have decided to stop sharing intelligence on the attack with the U.S.

The New York Times has published photos of the crime scene. The argue the images were not graphic, or disrespectful of victims.  “We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories,” they said in a statement.  President Donald Trump calls the leak troubling, and has asked the Department of Justice to look into it.

This weekend is a National Bank holiday in the United Kingdom.  The National Health Service (NHS) has alerted England’s 27 trauma centres to prepare for a possible terrorist attack.

The Charity Commission, Greater Manchester policy, the British Red Cross have launched the “We Love Manchester” appeal.  It’s up to 849,183 pounds.

Update: 26/5/2017: Tillerson  dispatched to London

Police update on arrests: 8 people have been arrested in connection to Monday’s attack in Manchester.  Seven remain in custody.  Searches continue at various addresses in the Manchester area.  Anyone who parked their car is asked to show their keys at the junction of Cheetham Road/ Trinity Way to British Transport Police (BTP) and officers will retrieve it.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Crowley revealed in a statement the investigation is focusing on understanding Abedi’s life.  “We are focusing on Abedi’s life; forensically examining a number of scenes, reviewing hours of CCTV Fro the night itself, and hours before.”

The Guardian newspaper reports that three of the suspects arrested in connection with the attack are the bomber’s cousins.  All are brothers, and two run a barber shop which, was also raided Friday morning, local time.

Canadian Newspaper the National Post has uncovered a Canadian connection.  They are reporting Abedi is linked to an extremist Imam Abdul Baset  Ghwela.  Ghwela lived in Ottawa.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has travelled to London for meetings with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.  The meeting was to focus on the intelligence leaks dealing with the Manchester bombing.  According to media reports he took full responsibility for an incident which saw a short-term halt to intelligence sharing.  U.S. media published the name of the bomber, as well as photos from the crime scene.  Tillerson is expected to visit Manchester.  Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump are expected to discuss terrorism at the G7 Summit.

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has promised to give profits from his first solo concert to the British Red Cross appeal.  A crowd burst into “Don’t Look Back in Anger” following a minute’s silence during a vigil yesterday.  The band is from Manchester.