Manchester, United Kingdom. There have been 19 people killed and 59 wounded in an explosion at the end of a concert by American singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester on Monday, in what two US officials say is a suspected suicide bombing.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. It is the deadliest terrorist assault in Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s subway system back in July 2005.
“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”
English anti-terrorist police responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:33 pm at Manchester Arena, which has the capacity to hold 21,000 people, where the American singer had been performing to an audience that included many children.
Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said police were treating the blast as a terrorist incident and were working with counter-terrorism police and intelligence agencies but did not share details on their investigation.
One witness who attended the concert said she felt a huge blast as she was leaving the arena, followed by screaming and a rush by thousands of people trying to escape the building.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but CIA officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives. CIA officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said initial signs indicated that a suicide bomber was responsible for the blast.
“In the absence of conclusive evidence, the choice of venue, the timing and the mode of attack all suggest this was terrorism,” said a counter terrorism official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US Department of Homeland Security was monitoring the situation in Manchester closely but said it had no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States.