UPDATE: Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British man of Libyan descent, has been identified as the Manchester Arena bomber, the New York Times reports. Abedi lived 3.5 miles away from the venue. He carried out the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.K. since 2005, detonating a homemade explosive that killed 22 people and injured 59 others. Abedi chose the time and place to inflict “maximum carnage” on young fans, according to British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the terrorist attack, according to monitoring group SITE.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police identified the bomber during an afternoon press conference. He declined to provide any further details, noting that a coroner had not yet officially identified him. “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network,” Constable Hopkins said. GM Police arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the terror attack in south Manchester earlier today.
The massacre occurred around 10:30 p.m. on Monday, May 22nd after Ariana Grande‘s concert ended at the vast 21,000-seat venue. Waves of photos and videos pervaded social media immediately after the outside explosion was heard. The crowd was predominantly young kids, teenagers and their parents. Prime Minister May confirmed Tuesday morning that children are among those killed.
In a televised statement from London, British Prime Minister May said the incident is “beyond doubt” an “act of terror” and that Britain’s terror rating is currently at severe, meaning that another act of violence could occur. “We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” she said. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
The New York Times reports that Abedi’s ID was found at the scene of the bombing, indicating that the assailant was born in Britain in 1994 and was the son of immigrants from Libya. According to his neighbors, Abedi lived with his family in a house in Elsmore Road, in the Fallowfield district. The police raided Abedi’s home on Tuesday afternoon.
“They didn’t really speak to anyone,” said a neighbor, Lina Ahmed, to the Times. “They were nice people if you walked past.” Another neighbord, Farzana Kosur, said that Abedi’s mother taught the Quran had been abroad for around two months.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday night: “At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States. However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
A “bang” was heard at 10:33 p.m. London time, after Grande had performed her last song and people began exiting the venue. Universal Music representative Joseph Carrozza told Rolling Stone the pop star was “okay.” The pop star later tweeted that she was “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” The singer has currently suspended her international Dangerous Woman tour, which was slated to continue on to London’s O2 Arena.
“At this time, we have no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States. However, the public may experience increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”
Live Nation said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident.”
The Manchester Arena added, “We can confirm there was an incident as people were leaving the Ariana Grande concert show last night. The incident took place outside the venue in a public space. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”
“Suddenly everybody started screaming and running for the exit … We could hear the police and ambulance sirens. It was terrifying,” a concertgoer told MailOnline. “There were thousands of people trying to get out at once. They were all screaming and crying. The whole place smelt smoky and burnt.”
“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” concertgoer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters. “It was a huge explosion — you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”
Majid Khan, a 22-year-old attendee told The Independent: “I and my sister … were all exiting the venue when around 10:40, 10:45pm-ish, a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena … It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit Trinity Way and that was blocked so everyone was just running to any exit they could find as quickly as they could.”
In the aftermath of the incident, families were separated in the ensuing chaos. “There are over 60 children without guardians at Holiday Inn,” Fox News’ Heather Childers tweeted. Facebook also activated a Safety Check for those in the area of the attack. “An emergency number is available for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area – 0161 856 9400,” Manchester police added.
Chaos following explosions at Ariana Grande’s concert @ Manchester Arena.
— E (@esheikh_) May 22, 2017
Greater Manchester Police are advising everyone to clear the area. According to reports, bomb disposal units were also employed to the scene, as were bomb-sniffing dogs. The unit also triggered a controlled explosion of a suspicion package that turned out to be abandoned clothes.
The Manchester Arena is the United Kingdom’s largest indoor venue and second-largest in Europe with a capacity of 21,000. The venue is located in Manchester, about three hours north of London.
The opening musical guests were Victoria Monet and Boston-based hip-hop artist, Bia, who tweeted after the incident that she is safe.
Grande’s manager Scooter Braun tweeted following the incident:
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) May 23, 2017
— cling clang (@butterywig101) May 22, 2017
well… ariana grande concert manchester pic.twitter.com/It2vnPsWPz
— c h a r :tulip: (@charlottefa1ry) May 22, 2017
— Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) May 22, 2017