What’s Been Happening?
22 people were killed in an explosion that occurred in Manchester Arena in England after an Ariana Grande concert as people were leaving. Around 59 others were injured, with some in a critical condition.
This was Britain’s deadliest attack since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.
Authorities have identified the suicide bomber responsible as 22-year old Salman Abedi. Unverified images published by New York Times show various elements that were photographed at the scene suggest the bomb was designed for maximum impact. The bomb appeared to have been concealed in a backpack that contained a high velocity charge with carefully shrapnel. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but has provided no evidence and neither U.S. nor British officials have corroborated that.
Police have so far arrested eight men who they believe may have been a part of Abedi’s “network”. Searches continue as detectives believe there could still be more people at large who are a part of a terrorist network as bomb-making materials have been uncovered through raids in the south of the city.
Ariana Grande has reportedly returned to her hometown in Florida, United States following the terror attack with the remaining two concerts scheduled in London being cancelled.
The UK has raised its threat level from severe to the highest level of “critical” for the first time since 2007. UK Prime Minister Theresa May concluded on the basis of investigations following the attack, the assessment is that “not only an attack remains highly likely, but that an attack may be imminent”.
Armed police officers will be replaced by members of the armed forces which will allow deployment of increased police presence at key locations. Military personnel will also be at public events such as concerts and sports matches to keep the community safe. This well-established plan is known as Operation Temperer.
Further arrests are likely to be made over the Manchester terror attack as investigations and raids continue. The intelligence leaks to the US media (e.g. New York Times) is likely to have complicated ongoing investigations and Theresa May has vowed to raise these concerns with Donald Trump when they meet at the Nato summit. May has said that she would “make clear to President Trump that intelligence which is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure”.
The UK Prime Minister and her opposition Jeremy Corbyn both agreed to have their general election campaigning suspended until further notice following the tragedy but the deadline is fast approaching – June 8. It’s expected that the focus will inevitably shift from this event to the election that is taking place in next few weeks.
At this stage, it is also uncertain whether Ariana Grande will resume her “Dangerous Woman” tour. A shortened schedule is expected for the pop star and the tour to resume in Paris on June 7.