Train station reopens as Manchester picks itself up after suicide attack

Floral tributes are placed at Manchester Victoria railway station on May 30, 2017, in Manchester.
Floral tributes are placed at Manchester Victoria railway station on May 30, 2017, in Manchester. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER (AFP) - A train station next to the scene of last week's suicide bombing in Manchester reopened on Tuesday (May 30) for the first time since the carnage in which 22 people were killed, as the city slowly returned to normal.

Manchester-born Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher was to make his solo debut later on Tuesday with a charity concert, the latest in a flood of tributes in Britain's third-largest city for the victims of last Monday's (May 22) concert attack.

"We Will Remember You", read signs accompanied by heart images and surrounded by floral tributes at Manchester Victoria station as service resumed.

"Tragically taken away. But never to be forgotten," read a note left by Transport Minister Chris Grayling at a morning ceremony, while Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham wrote: "We will always stand with you."

"I think it will take a long time to get back to normal. There's still a weird feeling, you know, armed police, a lot of unease," said 59-year-old David Keys as he got off a train.

Sharon Glyn, 48, said she felt "goosebumps" as her train pulled into the station, while 29-year-old Andrew Shivas said: "Can't let them win."

Manchester Victoria station is connected to the Manchester Arena, one of Europe's biggest indoor venues, by a covered space that was the scene of Monday's blast, in which 116 people were also injured.

Most of the victims were young people attending a concert by US pop idol Ariana Grande, which had just finished, and parents waiting to meet their children.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Manchester-born university dropout of Libyan origin who reportedly fought in the Libyan conflict to topple former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Abedi's brother, Hashem, and father, Ramadan, have been arrested in Libya, where authorities say the two brothers were both ISIS militants.

Fourteen more people are being held in Britain and police have released a security camera image of Abedi carrying a large blue suitcase, appealing for any information about where Abedi might have been with the luggage.

Britain's terror threat level was raised to maximum in the wake of the attack but lowered again over the weekend, while armed soldiers who had been deployed to assist police patrols were being pulled back.

Police say they have uncovered a "large part" of the network behind the attack but questions have intensified over apparent intelligence failures in identifying Abedi as a potential terror threat.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also come under heavy criticism for drastic cuts in police numbers during her time as interior minister, as campaigning has resumed ahead of a general election next week.

May has said that while overall numbers of officers have gone down, budgets for counter-terrorism policing have risen.

Manchester has seen several inter-faith vigils and shows of defiance in recent days, as well as calls for calm following a sharp rise in hate crimes.

Gallagher said proceeds from his show would go to a Red Cross-supported appeal after the blast that has already raised millions of pounds.

"I want to try and help pick people up," Gallagher, 44, told The Manchester Evening News.

Gallagher has a rocky relationship with his older brother Noel, who played guitar for Oasis and wrote most of the band's hits. They parted ways in 2009.

A tweet from Liam on Monday wishing his brother a happy birthday had fans speculating on social media that a hoped-for reunion could be on the cards.


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