Man arrested in Manchester as Theresa May condemns ‘sickening’ attack

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PM gives statement outside Downing Street revealing that police believe they know identity of bomber who killed 22


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Police have arrested a man in connection with the Manchester Arena bomb attack on Tuesday as Theresa May condemned the “sickening cowardice” of the perpetrator.

Greater Manchester police, who believe they know the identity of the bomber, detained a 23-year-old man in the south of the city in connection with the attack, which killed 22 people.

Another 59 people were injured in Monday night’s attack at the end of a concert by the US singer Ariana Grande. North West ambulance service also tended to about 60 walking wounded. Grande’s music is popular with teenagers and children, who were among the dead.

Explosion: Armed police at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion
at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Shortly after the prime minister finished speaking the first victim was named as 18-year-old Georgina Callander, a health and social care student at Runshaw College in Lancashire.

May, who will travel to Manchester later on Tuesday, said the city had “fallen victim to a callous terror attack, which targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation”.

The prime minister confirmed that 22 people were killed and 59 injured in the attack at about 10.30pm after the concert.

“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but an opportunity for carnage,” she said.

“But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future, to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence. And if there turn out to be others responsible, to seek them out and bring them to justice.”

The Cobra meeting began at 9am in Downing Street and lasted for nearly two hours. It was attended by cabinet ministers including the home secretary, Amber Rudd, the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, joined the meeting via videolink from Manchester and will meet May in the city alongside the Greater Manchester police chief constable, Ian Hopkins.

May said: “This was among the worst terrorist incidents we have ever experienced in the UK and although it is not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way, it is the worst attack the city has experienced and the worst ever to hit the north of England.

“We know that 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.

“The explosion coincided with the conclusion of a pop concert that was attended by many young families and groups of children.”

The wounded, including many with “life-threatening injuries”, are being treated in eight hospitals across Greater Manchester, the prime minister said.

Cobra will meet again later on Tuesday afternoon after the prime minister’s visit to Manchester and will be chaired by May, Downing Street said.

She said more than 400 police officers had worked throughout the night and said they would need time to establish whether the attacker was acting alone or was “part of a wider group”.

The prime minister paid tribute to the emergency services, who had battled through “traumatic and terrible scenes to save lives and care for the wounded”.

She also paid tribute to the others who had rushed to help, saying those “are the images that embody the spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain”. Among those who rallied round in Manchester were individuals opening up their homes to strangers, taxi drivers waiving their fares and Sikh temples and hotels offering refuge.

May and the leaders of other political parties suspended campaigning for the general election. She had been due to speak at a campaign event in south-west England.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, May spoke to the US president, Donald Trump, who offered his condolences. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, tweeted that he planned to call May.

No 10 said the government was not planning to increase the threat level to “critical” from “severe”, which is the fourth-highest ranking. Critical – the highest ranking – would only be used if another attack were believed to be imminent.

Nevertheless, security was beefed up across the country, with more armed officers deployed on the street. The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said the extra presence would continue for as long as needed. and that discussions were taking place with all those planning events this weekend to ensure necessary steps had been taken. Security was also stepped up in Scotland where the chief constable deployed armed police on high visibility patrols in crowded areas, airports and railway stations.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who was due to speak in the West Midlands, said it was a “terrible incident”.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, cancelled a planned visit to Gibraltar, saying the country was “united in grief after this devastating terror attack”.