2017 Manchester Arena bombing

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2017 Manchester Arena bombing
Part of Terrorism in the United Kingdom
File:Manchester Evening News Arena - geograph.org.uk - 1931437.jpg
The exterior of Manchester Arena in 2010
2017 Manchester Arena bombing is located in Greater Manchester
2017 Manchester Arena bombing (Greater Manchester)
2017 Manchester Arena bombing is located in the United Kingdom
2017 Manchester Arena bombing (the United Kingdom)
Location Manchester, England
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Date 22 May 2017 (2017-05-22)
around 22:30 (BST)
Target Concert-goers
Attack type
Suicide bombing
Deaths 23 (including the attacker)
Non-fatal injuries
≈120
Motive Islamic extremism[1]

On 22 May 2017, a suicide bombing was carried out at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, after a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. The attacker was identified by police as Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan ancestry who detonated an improvised explosive device as concertgoers were leaving the arena. Twenty-three people, including Abedi, were killed and approximately 120 were injured.

Attack

File:Manchester bombing.png
Bombing location map

On 22 May 2017, at around 22:30 BST (UTC+01:00),[2] a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena. The attack took place after an Ariana Grande concert that was part of her 2017 Dangerous Woman Tour.[3][4] The concert was sold out and up to 21,000 people may have attended,[5] many of whom were exiting through the foyer at the time of the explosion, suggesting that the suicide bomber chose the time and the place to cause "maximum carnage",[6][7][8] in addition to the bomb being filled with lethal shrapnel.

Greater Manchester Police declared the incident a terrorist attack, identifying it as a suicide bombing. It was the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the 7 July 2005 London bombings[9] and the first in Manchester since the 1996 bombing by the Provisional IRA.[lower-alpha 1]

Aftermath

About three hours after the bombing, a controlled explosion was conducted by police on a suspicious item in Cathedral Gardens,[10] later found to be an item of clothing.[11]

Residents and taxi companies in Manchester offered free transport or accommodation via Twitter to those left stranded at the concert.[7] Parents of children attending the concert were separated in the aftermath of the explosion. A nearby hotel served as a shelter for children displaced by the bombing, with their parents being directed there by officials.[12] Manchester's Sikh temples (Gurdwaras) along with local homeowners, hotels and venues offered shelter to victims of the attack.[13]

Manchester Victoria railway station, which is partly underneath the arena, was evacuated and closed, and services were cancelled.[3][14] The station remained closed for several days.[15]

The Arndale shopping centre was evacuated for a time during an unrelated arrest on the day following the attack.[16] On Wednesday, 24 May, a radio BBC 5 studio was evacuated at 2:00 pm while live on air, as was a departure-level drop off at Terminal 1 of Manchester Airport. A second brief evacuation of a Salford University building occurred at about 4:00 pm.[17]

After a COBRA meeting with Greater Manchester's Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK's terror threat level was being raised to "critical", its highest level.[18] Operation Temperer was then activated for the first time, allowing up to 5,000 soldiers to reinforce armed police in protecting parts of the country.[19][20] Tours of the Houses of Parliament and the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace were cancelled on the following day,[when?] and troops were deployed to guard government buildings in London.[21]

Casualties

Twenty-two concert-goers were killed in the blast and about 120 were injured,[22][23] including 59 who were taken to hospital, of whom twenty remained in critical condition as of 24 May.[24] North West Ambulance Service reported that 60 of its ambulances attended the scene, carried 59 people to local hospitals, and treated a number of walking wounded on site.[25] Of the hospitalised, 12 were reported to be children under the age of 16. All of the 22 dead had been named by the evening of 25 May. They included seven young girls—one eight-year-old[26] and six others aged 14 to 19—and an off-duty police officer.[27]

Attacker

File:Salman Ramadan Abedi, suicide attacker in the Manchester Arena bombing.jpg
Salman Ramadan Abedi, who carried out the suicide bomb attack in Manchester

The bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, was a 22-year-old Briton from a Muslim family.[28][29] He was born in Manchester on 31 December 1994 to a family of refugees from Libya who had settled in south Manchester.[30][31] He grew up in the Whalley Range area and lived in Fallowfield.[32]

He was known to British security services but was not regarded as a high risk.[33] A community worker told the BBC he had called a hotline five years before the bombing to warn police about Abedi's views and members of Britain’s Libyan diaspora said they had "warned authorities for years" about Manchester's Islamist radicalisation.[34][35]

Abedi's parents, both born in Tripoli, returned to Libya in 2011 following Muammar Gaddafi’s death,[32] while Abedi stayed in the United Kingdom. In 2014, Abedi enrolled at the University of Salford, where he studied business management. Abedi later dropped out. According to an acquaintance, Abedi was "outgoing" and consumed alcohol until 2012. Another acquaintance said Abedi was a "regular kid who went out and drank" until about 2016.[36]

Abedi, his older brother[37] and his father worshipped at Didsbury Mosque.[33][32] A senior person at the mosque recalled that Abedi looked at him "with hate" after he preached against ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in 2015.[38]

Investigation

The property in Fallowfield where Abedi lived became a focus of the police investigation following the bombing. Armed police breached the house with a controlled explosion and searched it. Abedi's 23-year-old brother Ismael was arrested in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in south Manchester in relation to the attack.[39][40] Police carried out operations[clarification needed] in two other areas of south Manchester and another address in the Whalley Range area.[40] Three other men were arrested, and police talked about a likely "network" supporting the bomber.[34]

Two days after the attack, Abedi's 54-year-old father and 20-year-old younger brother were arrested by security forces in Tripoli.[41] According to German intelligence, Abedi had returned to the UK from Turkey four days prior to the attack.[42]

Following the emergence of information that he had recently returned from Syria, intelligence agencies are attempting to establish whether Abedi acted alone, or whether he was part of a terrorist network.[43][44] The French interior minister, Gérard Collomb, told a French TV channel that Abedi may have gone to Syria and had "proven" links with ISIS. Abedi's father and younger brother were arrested by the Libyan authorities on 23 and 24 May respectively. His younger brother was suspected of planning an attack in Libya, and was said to be in regular touch with Salman and aware of the plan to bomb the Manchester Arena.[45]

Photographs of the remains of the IED published by The New York Times indicated that it had comprised an explosive charge inside a lightweight metal container which was carried within a black vest or a blue Karrimor backpack. Most of the fatalities occurred in a ring around the bomber. His torso was propelled by the blast through the doors to the arena, possibly indicating that the explosive charge was held in the backpack and blew him forward on detonation. A small device thought to have possibly been a hand-held detonator was also found.[46] US Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, indicated that the bomb contained the explosive TATP, which has been used in previous bombings.[47] The photographs published in the New York Times were believed to have been leaked by US sources, from information supplied confidentially by British police.[48]

News leaks

Within hours of the attack, Abedi's name and other information given confidentially to security services in the United States and France was leaked to the news media, leading to condemnation from Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[49][50] The BBC reported that the UK government and police reacted with "fury" following the publication of apparent photos of the attack site by a US newspaper, and at the evidence later published by The New York Times, saying that the release of the material was detrimental to the investigation.[51] On 25 May, Greater Manchester Police said that it had stopped sharing information on the attack with the US intelligence services. Prime Minister Theresa May said she would make clear to President Trump that "intelligence that has been shared must be made secure."[52] Trump described the leaks to the news media as "deeply troubling", and pledged to carry out a full investigation.[53] British officials blamed the leaks on "the breakdown of normal discipline at the White House and in the US security services".[54]

Reactions

United Kingdom

File:Operation Temperer May 2017 (1).jpg
British military personnel alongside armed police as part of Operation Temperer in response to the raised threat level.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn both condemned the bombing,[55][56] while the Queen expressed her sympathy to the families of the victims.[57] Campaigning for the general election was suspended by all political parties for two days after the attack.[58][59] The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, called the attack "evil"[60] and announced a vigil to be held in Albert Square the following evening.[61] Burnham, Corbyn, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow and Home Secretary Amber Rudd were in attendance.[62] British Muslim groups, such as the Muslim Council of Britain[63][64][65] condemned the attack.

On 24 May 2017, Theresa May raised the threat level to critical for the first time since 2007, meaning "not only that an attack remains highly likely but a further attack may be imminent".[66]

International

Condolences were expressed by the leaders and governments of dozens of countries,[67] United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres,[68] Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland,[69] President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker,[70] Pope Francis,[71] and Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Yousef Al-Othaimeen.[72]

Ariana Grande posted on her official Twitter account: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."[73] Grande subsequently suspended her tour and returned home to Florida.[74][75]

See also

Notes

References

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