One nabbed as Britain intensifies blast probe

Police have made a number of house arrests around the British city of Manchester in the aftermath of Monday's bombing. VIDEO: REUTERS
A woman laying flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack in central Manchester yesterday.
A woman laying flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack in central Manchester yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Anger worldwide as children targeted in Manchester; ISIS claims responsibility

British police arrested a 23-year-old man as they intensified investigations into a suicide bombing that killed at least 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl, at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday night (Tuesday morning in Singapore).

There was anger worldwide as the attack appeared to deliberately target children attending the concert. "This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people," said British Prime Minister Theresa May.

US President Donald Trump called the attackers "evil losers", while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called them "cowards".

Mrs May said significant resources have been poured into a fast-moving probe to determine if the attacker acted alone or belonged to a wider conspiracy.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility yesterday for the attack, the worst on British soil since the 2005 London bombings in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people.

ISIS said one of its "soldiers" managed to place explosive devices at the concert - a version that was at odds with the police assertion that the attack was carried out by a lone suicide bomber carrying a homemade device.

Police identified the man as Salman Abedi, 22. The Daily Telegraph said be was born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children, and his parents were Libyan refugees who escaped the Muammar Gaddafi regime.

Police raided at least two flats in Manchester, including one where a controlled explosion was carried out. A 23-year-old from Manchester was arrested, confirmed the police, who are checking if the bomber had support.

Many of the blast victims were children or teenagers who had attended a concert by American singer Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, which was packed to its capacity of 21,000.

The first victims who lost their lives were identified yesterday - eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, 18-year-old Georgina Callander and 26-year-old John Atkinson.

Most of the 59 who were injured and treated at hospitals across the city in north-west England had shrapnel wounds. Many of them were in life-threatening condition.

The bomb went off at about 10.30pm in the foyer of the arena, where many parents were waiting for their children.

Families grew increasingly desperate as the hours ticked by and their children did not get in touch.

Security in Manchester as well as London was stepped up after the attack, with armed officers patrolling the streets while forensics teams combed the arena for clues.

Victoria station, the city's second-biggest train station, which is linked to the arena, was shuttered as a large cordon around the crime scene remained.

But questions have been raised over security at the arena, as some concert-goers claimed their bags were not checked at the entrance.

Venues worldwide have said they are now reviewing their security measures ahead of events.

Britain's terror alert remains at severe, said Mrs May, as she and her political opponents unanimously suspended campaigning for the country's general election that will take place in less than three weeks.

Grande has suspended her world tour, which was to have taken her to Singapore in September.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'One nabbed as Britain intensifies blast probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe