The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Tuesday for a suicide bombing at a packed Manchester pop concert, killing at least 22 people including an eight-year-old girl in Britain’s deadliest terror attack for more than a decade.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the police knew the identity of the bomber, who died in the blast late Monday, saying he intended to cause “maximum carnage”.
She said he is believed to have acted alone, but police arrested a 23-year-old man on Tuesday morning in connection with the attack, which occurred just over two weeks before Britain holds a general election.
“One of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds,” the IS group said in a statement published on its social media channels, and threatened more attacks.
Screaming fans, many of them teenagers, fled the venue in panic after the explosion at the end of the concert by US star Ariana Grande in the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, in northwestern England.
“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.
Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos and a teenager, Georgina Callander, were among the first of the 22 victims to be confirmed.
Another 59 people were wounded, many with life-threatening conditions.
“We know that among those killed and injured were many children and young people,” the prime minister added.
Police said the blast occurred in the foyer of the indoor arena, a covered area which links the auditorium to Victoria Station, a train and tram hub.
Witnesses reported seeing bodies on the floor after the blast around 10:30pm (2130 GMT) on Monday, and some fans were trampled as panicked crowds tried to flee the venue.
“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
Families were separated, with dozens of young people taken to nearby hotels overnight, and some parents were still desperately searching for their children on Tuesday.