A lone suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people including some children, police have confirmed.
The terrorist struck around 10.30pm on Monday night, just after Grande had finished performing to a crowd of thousands in the city. He has been named as Salman Abedi, a 23-year-old who was “known” to police.
He detonated the device in the lobby area of the Manchester Arena concert hall as fans of all ages, many wearing bunny ears, were walking out.
Witnesses reporting seeing a flash and hearing loud bangs, then being confronted with dozens of young, mostly female, concertgoers covered in blood.
ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
UK media began to name victims of the attack on Monday morning, the youngest of whom named so far is just eight years old.
Saffie Rose Roussos was killed after watching Grande with her sister and her mother, both of whom were wounded.
— Press Association (@PA) May 23, 2017
Another named victim was Georgina Callander, 16, who had tweeted Ariana Grande on Sunday saying “SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW”.
— Sophie 🥀 (@Sophie_Jauregui) May 23, 2017
Horrific video footage from inside the venue shows shock turn to panic as thousands of people tried to escape, pink balloons from Grande’s finale still littering the stands:
Police gave a statement early on Tuesday morning saying they believe the attack was carried out by a single assailant with a suicide vest.
Witnesses said the vest had been packed with shrapnel and chunks of metal to cause maximum carnage.
At 9am local time today (4am EST) the death toll stood at 22, with 59 more injured. The final number of children among the dead and injured is not yet known.
Correspondents at the scene said most attendees were girls and young women, between the ages of nine and 23.
Grande tweeted in the aftermath of the attack saying that she was “broken” and apologizing to fans who were hurt after coming out to see her.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
It is not yet certain who the attacker was or what his motives may have been.
Last night’s incident was the largest major attack on a live music event since the ISIS-linked attack on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in November 2015, where rock group the Eagles of Death Metal were playing. In total, 130 people were killed in the French capital that night.
The attack is the worst in the UK since coordinated explosions killed 56 people on the London transport network in July 2005.
Security experts have said that the sophistication of last night’s attack means the person responsible would have had accomplices, even though they seemingly were not present at the time.
Materials for explosives are very difficult to acquire and assemble in the United Kingdom, meaning that the attacker is likely to have had some kind of assistance.
President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the victims, who he described as “innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers”.